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So I asked Amtrak (again)...

There was a little discussion on the board yesterday about taking an Amtrak trip to Philly, & bringing along the bike. I was going to do this last summer, asked Amtrak about it, and got the stock answer: no.

I asked again, yesterday, and a few minutes ago got an answer. Here's what I said:


I asked this sometime last year, but a year has gone by, and I hope I can get a better answer. What I want to do is take a day trip from Pittsburgh to Altoona and back, with my wife, and bring two bicycles with me. Not taken apart, just roll them on in Pittsburgh (onto a rack in another car would be perfectly OK), and roll off with them in Altoona, repeat on the return trip. Not being able to do this is what's keeping me from making trips on Amtrak more often. If I have to make reservations for the bikes, to assure space both directions, that's fine. If I have to pay a few bucks for the privilege, that's fine, too. We cyclists in Pittsburgh are getting pretty good at mounting and dismounting bikes on city bus bike racks in a few seconds' time. It can't be that difficult to do the same in some kind of on-train rack. So, like, how about it?

...and again got a stock answer:

Dear Stuart,

Thank you for contacting us.

Our bicycle policy varies by route. Unfortunately, that route does not offer this service. To review the bicycle policy on please click 'Onboard' under the plan tab then select 'bringing bicycles.'



Amtrak Customer Service

Thus it would seem that the Customer Service person perceived "Oh, bicycle question", looked up Pennsylvanian, reply with stock answer "no".

Next step?

2010-04-20 21:52:43

I found this, NARP, maybe they could answer "next step?".

"A modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want.

NARP is the largest citizen-based advocacy organization for train and rail transit passengers."

Also found "Friends of Amtrak"

lots of government links, they might be interested in a constituency that might actually want to use a train.

2010-04-21 00:13:38

I know I would love to take a train across the state. I have yet to try the Pennsylvanian seriously (I rode to Altoona from Latrobe and back as a day trip when I was a wee one). Frankly, I think more people would take the cross-state train if it were consistently only longer than a Turnpike trip by like one, maybe two hours and if there was more than one train offered per day. If the route could accommodate bikes that would be spectacular.

I guess I find it surprising as to why the rail infrastructure is so outdated between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg when compared to Harrisburg-Philly. I guess it's a matter of cost and demand, but as a pure transit market (total travelers) wouldn't Pgh-Philly be bigger than Philly-Harrisburg?

2010-04-21 01:10:06

Harrisburg is probably more popular because it's a good midway point. I know my sis often takes the train from NYC to HBG for the holidays and my folks drive out from Latrobe to pick her up there... Doesn't make total sense to me, but I think some people from DC and other places to some extent consider HBG a hub or something. I think PGH-PHL is pretty long and expensive. Too bad about Amtrak not further expanding the bike policy. This is one of many times in which I wish we were more like Europe.

2010-04-21 05:14:37

Text of message sent to Amtrak and NARP, with minor adjustments;

"I am a member of a bicycle advocacy group in Pittsburgh, and we have been having a discussion currently as to why Amtrak makes it so prohibitive to take a bicycle on a train without dissassembling it and boxing it as freight. Many of our members express interest in using the train to travel cross country, and having the bike as transportation on the other end. However, dissassembly and boxing make that an unrealistic scenario.

The bike to train to bike is a natural and perfect intermodal scenario, yet Amtrak seems oblivious to this obvious pairing, indeed, places a major obstacle to prevent this. It would seem to require almost no change to physical facilities to enable this type of usage, some simple storage space, and a simple policy change. Are there any ideas as to why Amtrak would be so averse to this mutually beneficial arrangement?

More importantly, do you have any ideas as to how, as potential rail users, we might push to change Amtrak's policy to enable this usage? There is a large, and growing, bicycle transportation constituency who would quickly become rail supporters as well, if they found out that rail supported them. Thanks for any direction or assistance you might provide."

We'll see.

2010-04-21 12:42:32

A bit off-topic, but I would love to be able to take a train at night from Pittsburgh to Philly or NYC. Failing that, even a reasonable round-trip time for a day trip would help. My experience trying to take the train between Pittsburgh and Philly is that, all official schedules to the contrary, the trip takes a minimum of 9 hours, and often takes as long as 12 or 14 hours. This is actually one of the main factors that made me break down and buy a car in the first place ~15 years ago.

2010-04-21 13:23:28

FWIW, I documented my one prior Amtrak experience, from Pgh to DC via Philly in May 2008, on this blog. Looks like the Pgh-Phila piece was about 8-9 hours, with several slowdowns.

2010-04-21 17:01:13

I took the train last thurs with my bike down to DC. Cost me 5 bucks to put the bike on the train. No problems.

Monday, I got a call about my trip home. Train derailment, drip canceled. Sorry. No alternate transport, no anything, just "we can refund or reschedule"....

This is 100% what is the problem with Amtrak, it is not a serious mode of transport if there is a disruption and no alternatives given. It was kind of hilarious.

2010-04-21 17:25:00

I feel bad for Amtrak, what a tough predicament to be in. The only real rail service in the country, and major corridors are still freight right-of-way (meaning freight gets priority, and those companies choose what/when to fix/upgrade anything involving those sections of rail)

So you get terrible rail, having to stop for others, and yet you are the most (only) choice anyone has, making those delays/cancellations that much more painful.

I keep hoping the Biden connection will turn things around, but it seems to be slow going. At least there is forward progress on the train front for the first time in ages.

That said, having spent time on the west coast and seeing what a positive infrastructure can be provided with rail + bike, I might be emailing Amtrak about the Pennsylvanian just to see it happen…

2010-04-21 17:56:40

Steevo - did you have to box it, or not? That seems to be a big sticking point.

2010-04-21 17:57:28

Yeah i have a hard case and it was my fancy bike.

In times past I have bought an amtrak box for my touring bike, where you only have to turn the stem sideways and take off the pedals.

2010-04-21 18:22:27

@JZ, check out megabus. they're supposed to be more comfortable than greyhound and you it seems pretty easy to score $1 tickets to NYC right now

2010-04-21 18:40:17

Yeah Megabus is an outstanding deal, even if it passes through State College en route to NYC (I believe). However, what are the bike policies with Megabus? With Greyhound?

Also, on the note of the Pennsylvanian, I think a better investment of that train would be comfort, i.e. bike accommodations, wi-fi, etc. because I sincerely doubt much can or will be done to make the trip shorter or more reliable in the near future. Amtrak adding bike options is a reasonable request espcially with enough outcry. It's a win-win even if it's a slow train. And hey, we all know bikers aren't pulled by the FASTEST way of getting somewhere. ;-)

2010-04-21 18:48:28

Not sure the non east coast corridor trains have wifi, might want to check that. Even freaking east coast greyhound has wifi now.

The train is nice for a cyclist. Good sights, bottomless coffee for 1.75 and plenty of leg room in the viewing car.

Especially for touring cyclists. I took the train twice for tours because it would have been mad cash to transport the gear, especially if you plan on doing the GDMBR cause there are no airports near whitefish.

2010-04-21 19:11:12

from FAQ section:

Can I take my bicycle on board the bus? .

Unfortunately buses are unable to carry bicycles.

...but they also have a was this helpful/comments feedback thingy to respond to. More requests = more action?

2010-04-21 19:13:37

So, the follow up to my thoughtfully worded query about bikes on Amtrak, the response;

"Dear Mr. Edmonds:

Thank you for contacting us.

You may want to write a letter to your local state representative regarding your concerns."

That's it. They don't want to hear anything outside their box. That is the sound of a dinosaur dying.

2010-04-22 11:23:48

Contact this mad hatter as well as your local yocal.

Who knows, they might do something about it and not screw it up...

2010-04-22 11:46:12

After several e-mails and phone calls to Amtrak about this I concluded that for some reason they weren't even working on it. European mindset this ain't.

After arriving home at 1am last trip as a result of a 4 hour late train, I said 'to heck with them' and bought a motorcycle.

2010-04-22 15:04:17

@edmunds "You may want to write a letter to your local state representative regarding your concerns."

You might want to take them at their word on that. Sounds like: "Dude, we can't spend a dime, unless the politicans go for it"

On my own, I would not have guessed the local state representative would be the one to contact. I would have thought "congressman".

2010-04-22 16:00:15

Actually the guy that sloaps linked is on the transportation commitee, rail specifically, so, bingo. Thanks.

If any of these people step up, I would feel like I have to step up and take a rail trip. Anybody want to take a rail trip to the city of buttery love and hit it with a thousand BikePgh stickies?

2010-04-22 16:07:58

"You may want to write a letter to your local state representative regarding your concerns."

This is why they fail.

2010-04-22 16:30:20

"Continued Fail" Department:

Just got another email from Amtrak, in which was quoted my original email. Someone is obviously just pushing buttons with no thought involved at all.


Dear Stuart,

Thank you for contacting us. We apologize for the problems that occurred on your recent trip.

We have forwarded your e-mail to our Customer Relations Department.

If you need immediate assistance, please call our toll free number 1-800-USA-RAIL (872-7245) to speak with Customer Relations. Press '0 to bypass the automated system. Then ask for Customer Relations. Their hours are Monday thru Friday, from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm (ET).

We hope this information is helpful.


Barbara R

Amtrak Customer Service

Um, I didn't take a trip?!

Edit: ...but I'd like to think that maybe, just maybe, this is finally getting some attention. I'll keep you posted.

2010-04-27 15:01:10

Next you'll get the message:

Dear Stuart

Did you know you can travel with your bicycle on many Amtrak trains? Please visit our website....

2010-04-27 15:13:05

May 6 update: Actually, I did just get a follow-up email apparently written by a human being. The human doesn't have a name, but nevertheless the message is encouraging.

Dear Mr. Strickland:

Thank you for your recent email contact.

We appreciate your enthusiasm about Amtrak travel. We are working diligently to improve the services we offer to our customers, and I hope that many will share your love of train travel. Comments we receive from our customers are very important to us, as these help us to calibrate the services we are providing and make adjustments where warranted. Unfortunately, we still do not have the capacity to carry bicycles between Pittsburgh and Altoona, PA. As information, we have entered your concerns into our customer database and that information is shared with the responsible managers for review and any consideration.

Once again, thank you for writing. We look forward to serving you future travel needs.


Amtrak Customer Relations

I, for one, am hopeful. I think this got the attention of someone a ways up on the food chain. Maybe if we keep after them, inquiring, actually bringing boxed bikes on trains, we might just accomplish something!

2010-05-06 14:30:56

we still do not have the capacity to carry bicycles between Pittsburgh and Altoona, PA., what?

it's a huge train, right? no capacity? I'm gonna stop by there and show them my bike, It's not that big. You can take a car on the train to Florida, cars are real big and heavy and they have capacity for them, curious.

2010-05-06 15:14:54

2010-05-06 15:16:25

Has anyone taken their car to Florida?, maybe you have to take the steering wheel and tires off, and stick it in a box, I'll check.

2010-05-06 15:19:20

I have friends who have driven their car (loaded with bicycles) to Florida and then taken the train back from Florida to DC. Amtrak is happy to load a bicycle when it's packed in a car--on that one train.

@dwillen LOL

2010-05-06 15:47:46

Reminds me of a joke from the halcyon days of the mighty Pennsy. Guy books a sleeper on a Pullman car from Chicago to New York. Sleep is disturbed by a bug of some kind. Writes angry letter to President of the railroad. Gets a beautiful letter of apology back that really makes him feel like they heard his concerns and will take appropriate action. Except..the secretary had left the note from the bosss paperclipped to the letter. It read "Send this jerk the bug letter."

Still, Stu is probably right. If enough people want it it might happen...

2010-05-06 15:50:45

timito, I'm guessing they don't have three things they need:

a) An agreed upon rack to which to lock up bikes,

b) An information & reservation system to make sure there's space available for N bicycles from Any Point A to Any Point B on Train X, and

c) An agreed upon handling protocol for ensuring that Traveler Q gets Traveler Q's bike and only Traveler Q's bike, at these stops.

The train is only stopped one or two minutes at some of these places. It might be a bit more difficult to do this than it might appear. It also wouldn't surprise me that there's some stuff we don't know about (warring suppliers, union rules, handling non-standard shaped bikes, etc.)

The short answer is, every time you even think about taking a train ride with your bike, drop 'em a line and let them know they're not going to get your business until and unless they allow bikes on the train.

2010-05-06 17:33:37

Yeah, there are certainly some logistics to work out, how about half a train car with some bike racks to lock too, your responsible for locking and retrieving your own bike and sign a waiver saying they're not responsible. What do they do in Europe?

2010-05-06 21:20:30

For reference purposes, here is Amtrak's bicycle page [link].

So, this is do-able some places. That tells me that a lot of the figuring-out work has already been done. What they need now is demand, and probably a few bucks for some minor infrastructure, i.e., bike racks.

Ray LaHood, are you listening? This sounds like low-hanging fruit.

2010-05-08 15:19:12

there was a time not too long ago, when you could bring a boxed bike onto amtrak. that was back in '04 MAYBE as recently as '05. that was back when there were two trains a day to philadelphia. both of these trains had baggage cars. when they downsized cross state operations they also cut out the baggage car. so its not just bicycles, if you want to move by train to philadelphia you're out of luck too. the chicago to dc train still has its baggage car when it passes through pittsburgh, this is why when i raise a complaint they tell me amtrak can ship my bike to my through dc and it can meet up with me the next day in philadelphia.

so this is an issue more than just bicycles. what we need to see on this route is: a baggage car, more service and bike racks!

also: i don't know if anyone heard, but some trail organizations for the allegheny passage have been making noise about amtrak installing bike racks on the pittsburgh to dc section of their route. since that train goes to chicago, this would mean bike racks between dc and chicago. this one looks like it might actually happen soon!

2010-06-25 23:41:24

Topping this old thread, as I asked Amtrak (yet again) about roll-on service, both to Philly and to Chicago. This is what I said:

I am planning a trip from Pittsburgh to Chicago, and return, in mid June, and another trip, Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, and return, in September. In both cases, I would like to take my bicycle with me. Does either train have roll-on bike service, or do they have to be boxed? If boxed, is this likely to change anytime before my planned trips?

My willingness to consider Amtrak would be greatly helped by having roll-on bicycle storage.

Thank you for your assistance.

Their website lists a couple of routes with roll-on service, but as they do not refer to them by a readily identifiable route number, I cannot easily tell whether either of my planned trips are included.

Today is 4/26/2011. Let's see what happens this time around.

2011-04-26 23:15:44

Having moved to Philly last fall, I feel the frustration of not being able to bring the bike back and forth.

My job requires plenty of travel, with a stint in Long Island coming up this summer, taking Amtrak from Philly to NYC and the Long Island Railroad. While not a roll-on, roll-off solution, I'm going to give this a try:

Most of the Amtrak trains that I've been on seem to have an overwhelming amount of room, especially when traveling during non-peak hours. If you're willing to deal with loading up a hockey bag, this may make this process possible, especially on those trains with no luggage service.

2011-04-27 00:13:58

One reason there is so much service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia is that Amtrak owns the rail line. West of Harrisburg Amtrak uses another railroad's track, and takes second place to the owners' trains.

Also, and I hate to say it here, but Philadelphia and its extended suburbs are the most heavily populated part of the state.

I'd love to see more frequent train service between Pennsylvania's largest cities, and to see bikes allowed on the train, but I don't think it's going to happen.

2011-04-27 12:16:15

So this is supposedly the method that Amtrak uses for their email:

So President and CEO would be

Another rumor is their telephone customer service and that you can reach the employee directory by saying "employee," then try to pronounce "Joesph Boardman" correctly.

Not sure if this is true, found this online...guess you could try and see if it would work. Worth a shot!

2011-04-27 13:36:27

Nov 3 2011 update: I never heard a peep out of Amtrak after my May email.

This thread crossed my mind a couple months ago when RubberFactory/Erica was planning her trip to Ohio. If she'd been able to take her bike on the 29 Capitol Ltd, she'd've been able to get within 10 miles of her destination. The Amtrak website says it doesn't even have checked baggage on that train, and their bike page says nothing about it, either.

Two and a half years I've been after them, and still nothing. Why is this hard? If I was to shell out $1K or so to buy them a rack, and as a side benefit get to ride the system for a year, would that help them any? I'm sure a couple of people would go for such a deal!

2011-11-03 17:14:05

On the GAP email list last month, a guy posted a reply he'd just gotten from Amtrak:

In response to your inquiry about the design of a train car to transport bicycles, please be advised that Amtrak is currently in the process of producing such a car. Details have not yet been released; however, we are encouraged by the process thus far and anticipate some very positive results soon.

As information, significant reductions in federal funding have been proposed for Fiscal Year 2012 that may affect this and other projects currently planned.

And I posted this reply I got from Amtrak last month:

We appreciate your inquiry regarding roll-on/roll-off bicycle service aboard the Capitol Limited between Washington and Pittsburgh. At the current time, Amtrak is working on this program and we are hopeful that a spring start-up of a pilot program for this train will take place. Final details are being formulated, and we hope to have some information available soon.

It seems like Amtrak doesn't have a form letter for this. Not sure if that's good or bad.

BTW, the Capitol Limited does carry checked baggage. However, you can only access it at checked-baggage stops: Chicago, South Bend, Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington. Six of 16 total stops, where you can load or unload a bike in a box, or other checked baggage. None between here and DC.

2011-11-03 20:34:45

Got this in a tweet:

Bike accommodations on Amtrak Surfliner

2012-03-06 18:56:03

"Surfliner" != Capitol Ltd.

But I've been on the Capitol Ldt. There's room to spare. Why can't we have those?

2012-03-06 18:58:06

I rode the surfliner from LA to Oceanside last week, sans bike. Someone boarded with a bike and when they discovered luggage in the area reserved for bikes the conductor made everyone move their bags!

2012-03-06 19:09:47

My friend Joe posted this from SF, not sure what train it is but he said the bikes are all arranged by stop.

2012-03-06 19:29:43

That's fantastic. Althought to be honest is just reminds me of riding in Europe 30 years ago.

2012-03-06 19:44:47

That would be Caltrain. A bit more progressive than Amtrak.

2012-03-06 19:51:51

@rsprake My friend Joe posted this from SF, not sure what train it is but he said the bikes are all arranged by stop.

Wow, that looks SWEET! I love to travel by tyrain, but between seriously slow rides, expensive tickets and not bikes, I don't.

I'm guessing it gets hellish in that bike room if a couple of adams apples just put their bikes anywhere and aren't getting off until the last stop.

I wonder if there is a bike fee?

2012-03-06 19:58:47

So not only is ATA, BikePGH, PA Walks & Bikes, Rails to Trails advocating for this, we found out last week at the Adventure Cycling Assoc. talk at CMU that they too are working with Amtrak on these issues. Hopefully there's roll on/off service soon!

2012-03-06 20:45:55

Coming up on two years since I started this thread (April 2010), after asking them the first time in June 2009. The whole point of the 2009 trip was to take a day trip with my wife to Lakemont Park in Altoona as a silver anniversary present. I would still like to bike to the earliest O12 McKnight Flyer, transfer to the 7:20 eastbound Amtrak, jump on bikes in Altoona, bike to Lakemont Park, play for five hours or so, bike to an ice cream stand somewhere, bike back to the Amtrak station, ride to Pittsburgh, and catch the last 12 McKnight home. Pure fun, and I think I costed the whole thing out to about $100. How many missed opportunities are there out there? Part of me is sad, and part of me is pounding a fist saying "Make it happen already! None of us are getting any younger!"

2012-03-07 05:16:27

The saddest part is that it already exists, in this country, by this company. This isn't some kind of perplexing and crazy new problem that we have no idea how to fix, or something they as a company have never encountered before and have no experience with.

They simply don't see it as worth actually moving on. The only alternative to that pessimistic view is that there is not enough support for the change - but a recent post listing the organizations supporting it indicates that's not true.

So Amtrak simply must just be jagoffs.

2012-03-07 14:05:36

I agree EJ. There’s that train commercial on tv that talks about moving a ton of freight 400 miles on a gallon of fuel or some such. So adding an extra ‘baggage’ car onto a train really can’t be all that expensive from an operations perspective. On the other hand, the train doesn’t even come close to breaking even as it’s currently run. Kind’a a chicken & egg argument if you ask me.

2012-03-07 14:31:15

The saddest part is that it already exists, in this country, by this company.

Not only that, but it is so popular that they can't add enough capacity to keep up with current customer demand. The article I linked earlier said 10% of passengers are cyclists. I don't know if that includes those who bike to the train station or not. When I lived in Davis, there was about 150 rack spots for bikes at the station, and usually twice as many bikes parked there on any weekend. Most people locked to a nearby fence. Who knows what fraction of riders would bike (or what fraction of bikers would take the train!) if they had capacity to handle all the bikes, both transporting them and parking them.

2012-03-07 15:08:46

What's funny is that CalTrain is also operated by Amtrak, including Amtrak employees on the trains themselves. So there is one more route they clearly know how to manage this type of demand on…

2012-03-07 18:18:25

There was some recent discussion on the GAP mailing list on this. It seems Amtrak modified a baggage car specifically for Capitol Limited roll-on roll-off bike service, and it was on display in DC for a while. But their safety guys weren't satisfied with it and requested changes. Once the engineers build a setup that the safety people approve, they should be good to go.

I'm guessing they can't just copy whatever they did for those routes that already have the service because maybe the Capitol Limited uses different baggage cars. But who knows?

2012-04-06 07:07:01

That's good news!

2012-04-06 13:19:42

according to Eric from Philly's CTC account, he boxed his bike on Amtrak from Pittsburgh to Philly (about 90% down the page).

2012-05-08 13:53:32

I recently heard an update on the bike accommodations on the Capitol Limited. They do have a new design in place and I believe it's going through the safety department now (not 100% sure on that) BUT it will only accommodate something like 6-8 bikes total.

You will not be able to reserve the bike space in advance. If it's filled when you get to the station you're SOL. I don't see how this will actually be a useful transportation method for GAP riders unfortunately.

2012-05-08 14:01:16

I thought we already could put a bike on the D.C. train. But getting to Philly (or Altoona, my original destination) requires a box. That makes me a non-customer.

This should be a one-hour decision. "Yeah, we'll do that. Develop a set of rules and figure out where to put them. Couple thousand for an off-the-shelf rack that dozens of transit systems use. Training, publicity, yours and yours to figure out. Bang, done."

How hard can this be?

2012-05-08 14:26:39

Somebody said something once somewhere on here about the style of cars being wrong, or old, or something. But where there's a will, there's a way. Someone at Amtrack doesn't perceive a will of enough strength to motivate them to provide the way.

2012-05-08 15:03:55

Stu, so that's step one. Step 2 would be getting the people on the trains to actually know what the company policy is. They've got to be at least as smart as PAT drivers, right?

2012-05-08 15:15:08

Although I don't think it is posted on their web site, Amtrak does seem to have an official policy now permitting folding bikes as carry on luggage. I don't own a folder but I was considering renting/buying one while looking at misc options for getting a bike into and out of NYC for the 5 Boros ride. ***** I asked the guy to print me a copy of the policy so I'd have it in hand in case I was coming back with a new or used bike. ***** So, I do have a printed copy of the official policy rendered in old school all caps dot matrix! I will scan it at some future date and post it here. In summary, folding bikes can be considered carry on luggage. There are a few more specifications about where they can be stowed (not checked).

This was for a 2-train ride from Springfield, MA to NY Penn Station involving two routes that specifically do not allow full sized bikes to be carried on. (except for rare occasions that don't seem reliable or predictable). There are a lot of stops in New England that don't allow for checked baggage, so a boxed full sized bike is not a possibility in any case from those stations.

2012-05-08 16:07:05

Here's some decent news:

"The Great Allegheny Passage has become a very popular destination for many touring cyclists. Several touring companies sponsor sagged tours, but I would guess the majority of riders are self-supported.

One of the challenges of self-supported touring is transporting your bike for one leg of the journey. Amtrak’s Capitol Limited Route between DC and Pittsburgh is one option. Currently your bike must be boxed for travel on the train. Roll-on/roll-off service would be much more convenient for cyclists and would likely attract many more passengers traveling the Passage.

We were encouraged to see that 18 members of Congress, including Representatives Connolly, Moran, and Norton, recently signed a letter to Joseph Boardman, President and CEO of Amtrak, asking that roll-on/roll-off service be provided:"

Read more:

2012-05-08 16:20:29

Scott, this is great news and I'm happy that there is strong political support behind it.

If the result is 6 bike racks in the storage car that you can't reserve and which may be filled when you get there, will this be a reasonably effective service? My concern is that this scenario plays out, no one uses the racks (or few do) because of the uncertainty and limited space, and Amtrak then says "look, we added bike storage and no one used it. So clearly there isn't a need for bike transport on our system."

2012-05-08 16:29:12

wow, Congress acted. Not exactly an Act of Congress, but hopefully Mr. Boardman can be convinced and drive it down through his company.

And hopefully not in the entirely plausible scenario sara just outlined. It's not just implementation of SOMETHING, but implementation of the RIGHT thing. If the people doing it don't understand why they're doing it, we're likely to get something that looks good on paper until it's scrapped for lack of use.

2012-05-08 18:22:28

The times I have packed my bike in a freakin' box to take it from DC to Pittsburgh... They put the thing in a COMPLETELY EMPTY baggage car.

It is pretty damn sad that they can't accomodate bicycles on the train — yet if some 1,200 lb fat american piece of trash got on the train they would make every accomodation to clear away enough space for them less they get sued for inhumane treatment.

Just sayin'

Not to mention, the times I've carried a bike on the train they treat you like a complete piece of garbage and make it as difficult as they possibly can to get a friggin' box from them and have the guy put the thing on the train before it pulls out of the station.

Either way, I don't care how crappy they treat me if they would just allow me to put my bike on a mostly empty train.

2012-05-10 16:00:38

Yeah Adam, I find it surprising too that they would be more accommodating of a person than someone's luggage. Messed up priorities.

I'm really glad that you brought up this valid and relevant point about how fat people are what's holding you back from roll-on train service. I totally agree that if they could be more rude to fat people they would have more niceness leftover for you and your bike.

2012-05-10 16:20:05


2012-05-10 19:43:19

A couple of days ago, a Twitter friend in Atlanta (@CCTgirl) got a little conversation going with Amtrak, to which I sent in this tweet:

@CCTgirl @amtrak @natltrainday I would love to go Pittsburgh<-->Altoona with my

bicycle and not box it.

To which I got this reply tweet this morning. Those poor people, can't even get the URL of their own site correct; the link goes to a squatter. And yes, this does seem to be their official Twitter feed.

@bus15237 Regrettably this is not possible on the Pennsylvanian train. Please send your comments to us here:

The link works fine.

2012-05-13 17:35:26

i'm less worried about a typo than the fact this seems like it's perpetually "about to happen" but never actually happens. I wrote another letter about the capitol limited line, i'd encourage everyone to take 2 minutes to do the same.

2012-05-13 19:35:42

Really the typo is irrelevant; I'm sorry I pointed that out. It's like bike racks on buses. Why have them only on buses going to Location X? The whole effing system needs to accommodate and promote roll-on bike storage, not just the train to D.C.

The question is, why doesn't EVERY city have 100 bikes locked to a fence outside the train station because they cannot accommodate them all on the train? That's the problem we want to have.

This is the same irritating problem as PAT and the bus racks circa 2007, a couple of rare trains have bike racks, so nobody even tries to use the system except for that tiny subset of people who actually DID use it once, somewhere, and found out how awesome it is.

2012-05-13 21:26:05

So, here's the 2012 request:

Please accommodate roll-on bike storage on all trains, at all stations. Having to box a bike makes me a non-customer.

A growing segment of your market does not own a car. They, and I, would arrive by bike, and immediately upon departing the train, would grab the bike and ride away. Please understand this.

I have been asking for a way to get from Pittsburgh to Altoona since mid-2009. I *know* the Pennsylvanian does not accommodate roll-on service, so please do not respond with a "Our bicycle policy varies by route. Unfortunately, that route does not offer this service." message.


for a couple of years worth of the discussion in the Pittsburgh bicycle community. I am the "StuInMcCandless" with a couple of posts on this message thread.

What will it take to buy a few dozen racks, implement a simple reservation system, and add a couple of paragraphs about it to your website?

Please make this happen.

2012-05-13 21:40:24

nice stu... i also said that i don't want to have to box my bike and gave examples of day trips and longer trips on the GAP that are a big pain due to lack of roll-on/roll-off service on the capitol ltd.

2012-05-14 02:42:06

seriously, I think roll-on bike service would make amtrak worth the extra money to get to cleveland, or anywhere else, for that matter. (instead of using megabus)

2012-05-14 06:47:10

I'm sure Amtrak on their own will do little to respond to these requests, they will continue to read them and file them in a dark hole and continue to proceed with the status quo until some motivation to change comes from the Federal level. So everyone who is interested in this issue, follow up these letters with letters to Congressmen and Senators as well.

2012-05-14 10:37:21

@Tabby: Bravo! I was just about to post a long rant, but thanks to you I don't have to.

(I'd been stewing on this all weekend.)

2012-05-14 12:38:17

+1 Stu. Having a rack on EVERY bus in the city, and allowing bikes on the T/incline during peak hours were the primary reasons I started using my bike during my commute. It's drastically increased the number of trips I take on the bus/incline/train.

Now I'm hooked. I'd love to be able to take Amtrak with roll-on service. I love to fly, but even that is becoming less appealing due to the bike boxing policy and charges. If Megabus changes their bike policy they're going to bury a lot of competition.

Come on Amtrak, your trains are SO much nicer than a cramped bus!

2012-05-14 13:20:45

glad to ease your mind, myddrin. also cool to know that I wasn't the only one who felt that way.

2012-05-15 03:23:10

May 15 2012, 7:43 a.m., this reply from Amtrak:

Dear Stuart Strickland,

Thank you for contacting us.

We apologize that it has taken longer than expected for us to reply. We have had an unusually high number of e-mail requests. Your patience is appreciated.

We regret that our current bicycle policy is not meeting your needs. The comments and suggestions we receive from customers help us to calibrate our services, and make adjustments where warranted. Your concerns are important to us. They have been noted for review, and made a part of our permanent records.

Please be assured that your patronage is valuable to us. We appreciate your taking the time to write to us about this matter.



Amtrak Customer Service

From Sunday evening to Wednesday morning, to me, is not an unreasonable wait. I would sure like to think this one made it up the food chain a notch or three, though.

2012-05-16 13:40:03

I think the "longer than expected" bit is because you said "I have been asking for a way to get from Pittsburgh to Altoona since mid-2009." Patrice figured you'd been waiting for a response since then. No wonder they appreciated your patience. :-)

2012-05-16 14:58:04

No wonder they appreciated your patience. :-)

For some reason, I am getting an image of Stu losing patience, turning big & green and yelling "Stu Smash!"

I have no idea why that popped into my head, but I'm finding it highly entertaining.

I blame Joss Whedon.

2012-05-16 15:09:05

I can picture Stu turning huge and green then citing in detail route info, ridership info, bus specifications, and local transit history until his foes wilt in weeping dumbfounded ignorance.

2012-05-16 15:13:04

I promised this a few weeks ago.

Here is an image of the FOLDING bike policy that was printed for me at the Springfield, MA Amtrak station...


2012-05-27 21:51:57

Unicycles, woot! Everyone should learn to ride a unicycle.

2012-05-27 22:05:21

Y'know, that would've been an awesome solution to the original problem. Sarah can ride it a bit, not real well, but with some practice could get reasonably adept at it. It would've been soooo cool to put two unks on an Amtrak train, ride to Altoona, then unk across town to Lakemont, and back. Guaranteed, nobody else anywhere would've done that for their silver anniversary.

2012-05-28 00:27:04

I think since Amtrak is government subsidized we will all be rolling down the street in walkers unable to ride bikes anymore by the time they come up with a sensable bicycle policy on the trains.

2012-05-31 20:10:08

Given that the roads are government subsidized, your statement doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

(Though it does give me an idea: contacting Mike Doyle--or Jason Altmire, who sits not only on the House Transportation Committee but on its Railroads subcommittee--might be worth at least a small kick in the pants to Amtrak...)

2012-06-01 18:43:04

Well, how long does it take to get a broken road fixed around here? How many letter writing campaigns and activists does it take to get a bike lane painted on a street?

Take those into account and it makes perfect sense why it will take another 30 years before you can just roll a bike onto an Amtrak train LOL.

2012-06-06 18:27:00

Well, at this rate, we'll be lucky even to have train service.

The Pgh-Hbg line is specifically mentioned as being a target for cuts.

A similar fate faces the Pennsylvanian service, the once-a-day diesel passenger train that operates between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania does not contribute to the costs of operating that train, which gets a $7 million annual subsidy from Amtrak.

2012-10-09 10:45:29

Seven million dollars. Pathetic. The current rt 28 work is budgeted at something like $140 million. There are single family homes around here that are $7 million. Somebody is supposed to run a railroad on those kind of numbers? The world is out of whack. But we knew that.

2012-10-09 11:07:45

We should take those $7M and and the $445M that goes towards PBS and put it all towards the military where certainly more good can come of it.

2012-10-09 12:14:29

I never realized the trains between Pittsburgh-Harrisburg and Harrisburg-Philadelphia were separate lines.

2012-10-09 12:38:10
Amtrak says they'd like a state to buy the railroad cars for them. I was curious how much that would be. This Forbes article talks about the cost for a private individual or group to buy a railroad car and have Amtrak haul it around. You can buy an old sleeper car for as little as $25,000. Refurbishing it can be much more expensive, they say, but I'd think the work required to carry bikes could be fairly minimal. Buying a current-model passenger car and retrofitting part of it for bikes would be far more, I imagine, but I didn't find prices for that. "If you want to hook your car up to an Amtrak train (about your only option), expect to pay $2.10 a mile for the first car and $1.75 for subsequent cars, with a $1,000 minimum, along with an annual activation fee of $250." Amtrak's site says it's $1.90 a mile for frequent customers. So putting one on every Capitol Limited trip for a year, just from here to DC, would be around $500,000 per year. But that's for private owners. Perhaps Amtrak would haul it for free or cheap if it helps them sell tickets, or if it could replace some existing but underused car (baggage car?) on the train. Could Pittsburgh or BikePgh or somebody buy and retrofit a railcar and sweet-talk Amtrak into carrying it? That's nuts, right? We should just wait patiently for Amtrak. Right?
2013-06-18 15:17:31
^ I wonder what Red-Bull or Cliff-Bar would pay to have their logo painted on the side of a RR car dedicated to taking outdoor/active people places with their bikes? Not that I'm agreeing with said approach. Edit: "Hey, I'm taking a long weekend to ride the GAP down to DC then riding the Red-Bull back home." Sorta sounds like it could catch on.
2013-06-18 15:51:26
How about someone finding a few million bucks and fitting all their cars with the necessary racks? I'm sure even one million would outfit a large part of the entire system for only twice what @Steven suggested to do one private car. OK, so humor me. This page has some facts and figures on Amtrak rolling stock. A summary: * 68 baggage cars. * 124 state-owned, Amtrak-operated passenger cars * 1,455 Amtrak-owned passenger cars So let's take a high estimate of $5,000/rack and 2,000 pieces of rolling stock; that's $10 million, top end, that would fully equip the entire system. In the overall scheme of things, that sounds like chump change. A single locomotive is in the area of $2M; they own 416 of them. What am I not seeing here? Why is this taking a decade?
2013-06-18 16:01:14
@stu, hopefully you saw the post I made in the out-of-town thread a couple of months ago regarding conversion of some of the dining car space for bicycle storage... they were testing a concept on a line from Chicago to Michigan, but hopefully this is being considered for the DC-Pgh route as well. If not, perhaps it's time to write some more letters.
2013-06-18 22:54:18
Linda Boxx told me that at some point Amtrak came up with a number, $50k or something, and the ATA called their bluff and offered to pay it... but Amtrak balked and came up with some other excuse. It's ridiculous.
2013-06-19 01:09:05
Nice ideas, but I'm shooting for big game here. Five friggin million is chump change in the national scope. Hell, that's what you'd pay to rebuild an intersection. Ten city buses. Renovation to one moderate sized building. One lane-mile of road. Two-maybe-three new locomotives. Do one set a year if it's that big a dent in your finances. Cut the crap, Amtrak. Just buy the damn racks and put them in place. It is the single, simplest, most cost-effective thing you can do to improve ridership. And I bet it can be done for a good bit less than $5M.
2013-06-19 08:01:56
As a commenter on this streetsblog post notes, Amtrak has an Auto-Train: roll-on service for cars from outside DC to Florida....
2013-06-19 14:19:18
So, could you take your bike, if it was on a bike rack?
2013-06-19 14:29:07
Can I Put My Luggage or Bicycle on Racks? All luggage, luggage carriers and bicycles must be removed from the top of your vehicle and stored inside the vehicle before it may be boarded on the Auto Train. Bicycles cannot be brought onboard. Roof-Mounted Racks We cannot carry vehicles with temporary luggage racks or bicycle racks attached to the roof. Factory-installed roof racks are permitted, but must remain empty during the trip. Rear-Mounted Bicycle Racks Bicycles can remain in bicycle racks attached to the back of the vehicle only. You must sign a loss or damage waiver for bicycles transported on the back of the vehicle.
2013-06-19 15:42:57
Sounds like a loophole...
2013-06-19 15:52:25
Or make a papier mache car body that can hold, say, 10 bicycles inside it. The outside could be festooned with Amtrak logos and Amtrak bumper stickers.
2013-06-19 22:53:17
Things are looking promising. Just posted by the League: The Amtrak issue has perplexed cyclists for years. In the past, Adventure Cycling Association has had limited success engaging Amtrak officials, and state and local advocates have been stymied time and again by the fact that many of the rail cars are not made to allow roll-on accommodation. Stating safety concerns and lack of storage, the ability to travel by train with a bicycle is hindered by the design of the rail cars, the platform heights, lack of on-train storage and train schedules (stops can be less than 5 minutes in some cases). But finally, a few breakthroughs are in the works. Amtrak officials are conducting a pilot plan for roll-on/roll-off services on the Capitol Limited Line between Washington and Pittsburgh.
2013-07-25 11:06:12
Well, so this train stops in Cumberland, right? So could you, for example, take the GAP from Pittsburgh to Cumberland and then ride the train back? Or take the train to Cumberland and then ride back?
2013-07-25 11:17:47
i sure hope so.
2013-07-25 11:24:11
2013-07-25 14:01:07
train shuttle. that would rock.
2013-07-25 14:04:31
On a somewhat related note, in the past week or two, Amtrak has announced that it will provide bike racks on the Ethan Allen line in Vermont, and will increase bike capacity from 6 to 10 per train along the Cascade Line in Washington State. You can reserve bike space when you make your train reservation/buy your ticket.
2013-07-25 14:40:09
couldnt find info online about it, but my dad rode the pennsylvanian to pgh last night and said they were allowing bikes on board. (he heard an announcement about boarding passengers with bikes. he got on first riding in business class so didn't have a chance to actually see) there's no checked baggage on the train according to the ticketing site, so that makes me think they started roll-on service.
2013-08-24 08:19:18
This is wonderful news! Can someone please confirm this? My original plan was to take a day trip to Altoona, then bike to Lakemont Park to ride a rollercoaster, and bike/Amtrak back to Pgh at day's end.
2013-08-24 08:30:08
It happened!! It really happened! I rolled my bike onto an Amtrak train, secured it in a matter of seconds in a real rack, walked up to my seat, and rode to Connellsville PA! Me and five others, two of whom (@Vannevar, @SR) have IDs on this message board. Those two and I then rode our bikes the 60ish miles back to Pittsburgh. And we could not have gotten better weather to do that, too! Blog post to follow. Meanwhile, here is the P-G article about it.
2013-10-15 18:10:16
P-G article about it . Ms. Boxx, in a phone interview from Cumberland, said the trail alliance has been suggesting the service for more than a decade, aggressively pushing it with a letter-writing campaign in recent years. "They said they got over a thousand letters," she said of Amtrak, "and no more than 6 or 7 hundred of them came from Stu from McCandless." Read more:
2013-10-15 19:20:41
Great news. Stu, I'm glad you got to be involved given your tireless and appreciated advocacy on this matter.
2013-10-15 19:33:37
+1 Awesome Stu - this is great!
2013-10-15 21:42:11
Stu, Thanks! :) BTW how much does it cost?
2013-10-16 11:43:59
Great news! One thing I'm curious about: Amtrak says it will need to install bike racks in six cars (at $8000 per car) before it can start service. Why six, not two? Each train takes a day from Chicago to Washington and another day to get back, so it seems like they need to outfit just two trains, no? Existing Amtrak routes with roll-on roll-off charge $5 per bike, or $10, or free, depending on the route. The routes that only handle 4 bikes per train charge $10.
2013-10-16 13:20:41
Two cars are always in motion. Two more cars are at the ends of the line, awaiting being put in motion for the next day's train. Two more are either undergoing maintenance or on standby, in case of failure. Actually, they told us that they need eight such cars so equipped, to do things properly on the Capitol Limited. Still, is $64,000 all that's standing in the way of at least getting the rolling stock outfitted? In the overall scheme of things, that's a piddlingly small number. The traffic light at Perry and Perrymont cost $100,000 a few years back.
2013-10-17 12:39:53
Interesting. The trip is supposed to take 17 hours 30 minutes. So it sounds like a train arrives in Chicago, sits there, and 6 hours later, a different train heads back, while the first train sits around for 30 hours before it heads out again? On Monday, #1 heads to DC and #2 heads to Chicago, then on Tuesday #3 heads to DC and #4 heads to Chicago, then on Wednesday #1 heads back to Chicago and #2 heads back to DC? Meanwhile, #5, #6, and perhaps #7 and #8 serve as backups. Of course, trains get delayed. Is 6 hours not enough time to absorb those delays? I agree that the money seems an easily surmountable obstacle. Bureaucratic inertia will be a bigger hurdle, I expect.
2013-10-17 21:34:38
Steven wrote:Is 6 hours not enough time to absorb those delays?
I am not very familiar how Amtrak preps their trains but I know how passengers trains are prepared in Russia. First of all train gets moved to a special "appendix" after all passengers are gone and it's time to move. It cannot be moved significantly earlier since passengers are allowed to return if they forgot something. After move to the appendix (which by itself takes 15 minutes easily) there is a time for cleaning. Length of cleaning operation depends on many things including how dirty the train is, availability free cleaning crew, etc. Usually cleaning takes at least a couple of hours. Then you need to refill water/toilet and drain/change toilets. This is done at special place. Then it's time for safety inspection. During safety inspection one could decide that something should be repaired and then train is pulled to a depot and another train will go. Safety check is going to be ran one more time (but it fast check) just before train is ready to go and again if something goes wrong the train is going to be replaced. I say it again, I am not very familiar with Amtrak mode of operations (I can ask our guys who work with Amtrak) and this is Russian mode of operations but I think those mode of operations are similar in different countries. And total preparation time in Russia is about 12 hours if everything is available right away. Sometimes during summer due to increased amount of scheduled trains cleaning crew would not be available for 16 hours. And safety people would like to touch train last.
2013-10-18 07:41:41
Another thing to keep in mind is that, outside of the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak does not own the tracks it runs on. It shares them with freight trains, who have priority, so trains can be delayed hours, easily, depending on the line.
2013-10-18 08:03:42
jonawebb wrote:It shares them with freight trains, who have priority, so trains can be delayed hours, easily, depending on the line.
It's not quite right. Amtrak operates according to schedule and per agreement with other company if they are in certain window of this schedule then they have priority. If they managed to get out of the window then their priority is low. In addition, there are high priority trains (usually run by government or under government -- like some waste transportation, nuclear fuel, etc) -- those train will delay everything.
2013-10-18 13:49:34
Interesting, thanks. Of course, planes have most of the same issues (with weather delays substituted for freight train delays), yet airlines don't buy 8 planes for every 2 simultaneous flights. I suppose a lot of the difference is just the result of planes being faster and easier to move around at the last minute.
2013-10-18 13:59:15
Amtrak has a page where they provide historical data on the lateness of their trains, and the reasons for the lateness: E.g., the California Zephyr is on-time under 70% of the time, the Empire Builder just over 60%. Pretty pathetic. "As many of you know, the tracks Amtrak trains travel outside of the Northeast Corridor are owned by various host freight and commuter railroads."
2013-10-18 14:16:58
Steven wrote:Interesting, thanks. Of course, planes have most of the same issues (with weather delays substituted for freight train delays), yet airlines don’t buy 8 planes for every 2 simultaneous flights. I suppose a lot of the difference is just the result of planes being faster and easier to move around at the last minute.
Airlines usually have much shorter legs in terms of time. And routes are scheduled in the way that airplanes do not flight short leg and come back. The same plane will go (just an example) from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia to Boston and then back. In doing so they minimize time to serve a plane on a ground -- usually there is enough fuel to fy further. And plane is served at the same point as passenger load/unload making operations in parallel. As you boarding/unboarding plane you can see that luggage/food/toilets/fuels are all served together (multiple cars around plane, many people doing different stuff around plane). one of the reason to do so is that airline pays to airport for all services and time on the ground (based on MTOW) while RR companies usually owns tracks and land around it. Nevertheless minimum time between land and take off is about 45 minutes but usually close to 2 hours. And if we are talking about long leg like NY-Paris and daily flights-- it's more than 2 planes. Plus airlines has a nasty habit to overbook flights about 15%. sometimes it bites them in their butts. In addition if something happens to airplane most companies will pay to another companies to transfer passengers (if they don't have extra airplane) to another company. It's still cheaper than to pay for accommodations. Pretty often you can see that a bigger airplane has been replaced with smaller one. This is also due to some problems with other flights. In rare occasions company will fly extra airplane (empty) to replace the one out of service.
2013-10-18 15:58:03
I will leave it to the experts to get to the bottom of scheduling issues. I am not an expert. Seems like this is more a symptom of a larger, more intractable problem, than a problem itself. I'm all for solving upstream problems rather than treating symptoms.
2013-10-18 23:06:59
the first time i ever came to pittsburgh was on the train (~1999). it was already 3+ hours late when it pulled in to Toledo; by the time we got to Pittsburgh, we were over 7 hours behind schedule. the return wasn't as memorable, but was also late by several hours....
2013-10-19 15:10:34
For what it's worth, I've taken Amtrak from Johnstown or Altoona to Pgh at least a dozen times, never late. I've taken Amtrak from Phila. to Altoona four or five times, never late. I've taken Amtrak from Chicago to Pgh, twice, never late. I've taken Amtrak from Saratoga Springs to NYC, twice, never late. I've taken Amtrak from Charleston SC, to Phila., once, it was about an hour or two late. They do a good job in my book.
2013-10-19 17:26:15
Vannevar wrote: I was surprised, the article (to me) didn’t come across as positive as I expected.
I think it is just the author's style, it didn't exactly rub me as negative either... just the facts kind of approach. He must have really needed to use the John, before he got on the train in Connellsville. LOL Fortunately, there is a public john at the campsite (and an even better restroom in the Martin's).
2013-10-19 17:40:44
Real progress. Linda McKenna Boxx of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, and I, are part of an official Amtrak task force to take a serious look at implementing roll-on/roll-off (RORO) bike service on at least some Amtrak trains. Something *will* happen. Maybe not fast, maybe not system-wide, but real.
2014-02-13 15:40:50
congrats Stu and thank you for investing the time and effort.
2014-02-13 19:36:13
2014-02-13 19:43:38
So just to see what would happen, I called Amtrak to ask if I can take a bike on a train from Pittsburgh to NYC. (Knowing that the website says the 42 Pennsylvanian does not have checked baggage service.) Answer is still "no." Good talking point for the National Bike Summit congressional meetings next week. Surely there are potential bike tourists in NYC that want to check out the Most Livable City...
2014-02-24 12:56:57
Thank you, @KBrooks, for taking the time and trouble to call them.
2014-02-24 13:32:51
Posting from the Capitol Limited right now! It just so happens that Deborah Stone-Wulf from Amtrak spoke at a breakout session at the National Bike Summit this week. She relayed the various things they're doing to be more bike friendly, including the test equipment and the task force. She said this was all in response to the "many... many... many" letters they've received. ;) I asked what we could do to help them continue to make progress -- lobby Congress for more money for Amtrak? Keep writing letters? etc. She said that the best thing to do would be to wait for the recommendations to come from the task force, then lobby Congress for funding for those specific recommendations. Apparently lobbying without these ideas in place will just result in more unhelpful browbeating of Amtrak by those who enjoy that sort of thing.
2014-03-06 19:36:00
Im not sure if this is the most up to date thread on the topic... I ride from DC to Pittsburgh for work quite a bit, and wanted to provide an update what the trains look like and what he staff have to say about bringing bikes onboard. I just took it last night so its fresh in my mind. Sometimes the train has cars with luggage rooms with the type of bike hangers you see on european trains, other times it doesn't. The train I was on last night didn't. On both types of train, with and without the hangers, the train staff dont really seem very clued in. I have asked and even on the train with the bike hangers the staff don't even seem to know they exist. I have not talked to anyone working for amtrak on a train that knows when or if there are plans for roll on bike service. Moreover - and I really do like taking the train - but the whole process seems more and more confusing. So many Amtrak people telling you where to sit, which exit to use, where you can put your bags, etc. It kind of feels like being babysat the whole way (at least compared to train trips other places). I can only imagine the confusion roll on bike service will add... Has anyone heard anymore news about this? I would really like to be able to take my bike to DC on a regular basis.
2014-05-20 10:31:09
See earlier posts. There is a task force, they are making progress, expect to hear something about a pilot project (possibly two) for equipping the rolling stock for handling bikes. There are a lot of moving parts to this. I am part of that task force.
2014-05-20 15:19:04
I have seen the "short list", and was in on the conversation as to why some routes are favored over others, at least for the pilot study. No decision has been made yet, but there is definitely progress. I am not at liberty to say publicly what routes will be looked at first, though I think it is safe to say that what we did here last October really helped show how feasible it is to do RORO (roll-on, roll-off) service at all, which got this conversation rolling. Not directly affecting us here, but does anyone know if Canada's VIA Rail system is looking at offering similar service? Since some trains cross the border, that adds a level of complexity not present for intra-U.S. routes like here to D.C.
2014-05-21 15:41:04
VIA's bike page says some routes have bike racks, but it's not totally clear on some details. Seems they have baggage handlers to get your unboxed bike on and off. Thanks for your work on this, Stu.
2014-05-22 01:47:19
I would sure like to go from Pgh to Montreal or QCC, with a bike, without driving, but I haven't been able to find any reasonable way to do that. Driving there is hell. Even driving to Toronto or Buffalo is doable, but still nuts. I love it up there but the trip is such a bitch.
2014-05-22 05:40:10
Trains crossing the borders have to switch crews, so even if there is one physical train going from NYC to Montreal, two entirely separate sets of crews, rules, station configurations, come into play. Even for the within-the-U.S. routes, one major limiting factor here is that, in order to provide the RORO service we want on a route, they have to outfit all the rolling stock that might be used on that one route, and try to keep it on that route. This becomes much more difficult when the cars from route "A" on a Monday go to route "B" on a Tuesday, route "C" on Friday, and return to "A" at the end of the week. So that might be 10x (or more) the number of cars they have to rig for this. In time, they will do that, but for the pilot, they need to narrow it to those couple of routes where they can "capture" the equipment. That is just one factor; there are lots more. Like I said, there are a lot of moving parts to this equation. I had no idea it was this complicated.
2014-05-22 07:32:07
So, you're saying that if we get RORO service on this route, the trains will still be circulated on other routes potentially.... Could this mean RORO service from DC to PGH to Cleveland to chicago could be a reality as well since they also lie on the capitol limited route?
2014-05-22 08:03:28
About Ontario: VIA Rail - Ontario Southwest: Windsor-London-Toronto and stops in between (daily trains) - Ontario East: Toronto-and Montreal and stops in between (daily trains) NOTE: Bikes can only be transported on trains listed with baggage cars. During summer months 12 bike racks are available on one trains daily between Toronto and Montreal, with no disassembly or boxing required. On other trains or during regular season, bikes can be transported in bags or boxes on trains with baggage car service. Upon arrival at the train station, check your bike at the baggage counter. Bike Transportation is only available to/from stations with attendants on duty. Extra charges apply. GO Transit - Toronto-Niagara Falls and stops in between (summer weekend service) NOTE: Easy roll on roll off service. No extra charges. 2014 includes Victoria Day weekend in May, Canadian Thanksgiving in October, and summer service starting June 27 to September 1. Saturday, Sunday and holiday's special 'bike coaches' are available with bike racks providing space for at least 46 bikes. A Friday evening service provides space for up to 18 bikes in regular train carriages, no bike racks available. I took my bike on GO Transit for a 20 mile trip east of Toronto in Nov. 2013 and it was super-easy and convenient.
2014-05-22 09:54:25
@Benzo - Yes, it would be the whole route, if chosen. @paulheckbert - Thank you! Sounds like they're ahead of us already.
2014-05-22 11:03:58
So it sounds like driving to TO and taking a train to QC would be feasible. At least it would knock off 6 soul crushing hours of driving across desolate upstate NY hell.
2014-05-22 11:11:03
Drive to Niagara Falls, Ontario, and pick up the train there. That's a 4 hour drive from Pittsburgh.
2014-05-22 11:38:19
There are long-distance routes, like the Capitol Limited (DC to Chicago), and short-distance routes (DC to Vermont). There will be one trial route of each type for RORO service. These new cars will be part of the service.
2014-06-18 22:04:53
Stu, this is kind of a big deal, right? And to confirm my understanding, the DC-Chicago includes the DC-Pittsburgh leg? (thanks in advance)
2014-06-19 20:52:30
The article says all 15 long-distance routes (the Capitol Limited being one of them) will get the improved baggage cars by the end of 2014. Will the RORO trial permit passengers to bring their bikes into the baggage car at any stop? (I thought the baggage car was normally only opened at baggage stops, of which there are none between Pittsburgh and DC. So I don't understand how these new cars help with RORO service.)
2014-06-20 02:16:19
Lots of variables. Lots of details. Nothing's been announced yet. We were to have a teleconference this week but it got delayed.
2014-06-20 05:54:05
I am very excited for this. I miss being able to roll my bike onto a train for a one day trip/ride to various regions and be able to head home that night on a return train. Hopefully I can soon start exploring more of the state's less-visited areas on a bike.
2014-06-25 08:30:10
<=== sees a PGH to DC trip in her future now!
2014-06-25 09:47:45
My hope is they will update their reservation system to allow ticketholders to reserve a spot. I would hate to have any uncertainty as to whether there was going to be room or not for my bike, especially when I'm boarding outside my home city.
2014-06-25 10:07:13
2014-06-25 10:07:28
*squints eyes* *tilts head* I'm happy they said this, but from what I gathered in the meetings so far (I only missed one), I don't see how it's possible that they will outfit all the routes by the end of the year. They were only talking two routes as pilots by the end of the year, one long-distance (Capitol Limited), one short (the Vermont one). To go system wide, this is going to be like outfitting all PAT buses with bike racks, and in the meantime -- years -- getting a train with a bike car will be a hit-and-miss proposition. Each year, they will get a few more cars equipped, and make changes to stations and train handling along those routes. (Some stations are too short to have the baggage car next to the station while they are boarding passengers, so they have to move the train a few feet to load baggage and bicycles. Not an issue on Capitol Ltd, but several others.) And the matter of multiple routes sharing a pool of cars means they can't provide the service at all on them, reliably, until they have enough cars equipped to do all the cars that form that pool. And Amtrak is only the point of contact. Much of the car ordering and station modifications have to be agreed upon and contracted out by various state departments of transportation. Plus there is the non-trivial matter that something can come up to kibosh the whole project, money being only one major one. That is still entirely possible. And even all I said here is not anything close to a complete list of the hurdles to jump. As I said a few posts up, I had no idea there were so many things in play. Really, we're probably talking 2018-2020 before we have all the pieces in place. The 2014 date is more about getting the pilot in place and running smoothly. We are still a long way from getting RORO service on the Pennsylvanian.
2014-06-25 12:32:20
Here is the issue. Checked baggage. The run to Philly from Pittsburgh has no checked baggage. Full Stop. The run to DC (senator) does, but of course you'll need a bike box ($20 from them) and pay an extra $8 or something for extra/oversize bag. I found this out last January on the coldest night of the year when trying to go to Florida on the senator. Not only was it 8hours late, it had been turned into a BUS and BUS==no checked bags == my bike stays here?? Leaves me riding home @ 4am and -17 + increased wind chill from bike. Bottom line is ASK QUESTIONS FAR AHEAD.. (the morons knew at 11p that it was going to be a bus and bus=no bike, but took chatting up a SECURITY GUARD to find out I was screwed) fwiw they lost my bag, discovered it busted open at the next stop in fla etc.
2014-06-26 21:50:47
So I need to book a trip to NYC this weekend. I'm deciding between Megabus or Amtrak. As I understand, for either situation, I would have to have my bike completely packed in a box? Is that correct? Or is one service more flexible than the other?
2014-06-30 10:07:17
Megabus official policy is no bikes. "Bicycles are not permitted on megabus motorcoaches." Amtrack is a bit more accomodating. You have to have checked baggage service available between your start and destination and you also must buy a bike box (typically available at the station for 10 to 20 dollars.) The bike box only requires you to drop your seat down, remove handlebars from stem, and remove pedals from what I remember. The tricky bit about amtrak is that you need to make sure that there is checked baggage service at your starting station, destination station, and there are no GAPS in baggage service if you need to switch trains. I don't think that this is available to NYC due to lack of baggage service on the pennsylvanian and east coast corridor route trains.
2014-06-30 10:51:23
Greyhound may be a bit more permissive with allowing bikes. "Packaging exceptions will only be made for the following items: bicycles, skis and ski poles must be packed in wood, canvas or other substantial container, and securely fastened" I have no personal experience with this. I've heard stories of varying levels of success with bikes on greyhound.
2014-06-30 10:57:06
My son and I want to go to Philly in November. It would be cool to find out we could take the train and take bikes!
2014-08-28 18:37:02
edmonds59 As I read the spreadsheet, nothing has changed for the Pittsburgh to Philly train. To clarify, NO CHECKED BAGS == NO BIKE BOX etc, if you had folders then I guess that you'd be fine (assuming you don't run into the clueless types in power.
2014-08-28 20:51:10
I am your information source. It won't be ready by November. But short answer, yes, if you have a foldie, it's considered carry-on baggage, and you can ride anywhere with it right now. Right now, they only have one baggage car ready. A pilot run, like the one last October but westbound, is being set up to take a couple of riders from D.C. to Pittsburgh in time for the Pro-Bike/Pro-Walk conference. They have to find their own way back. Getting this up and rolling is dependent upon Amtrak facilities retrofitting about a dozen railcars with the requisite hardware, and getting them put in place in the right places at the right time. I tried to interest them in doing a "soft opening" for sometime over winter, when the rolling stock would be ready but demand would be minimal. I think they think it's do-able, but they were hesitant to commit in a conference call. It's in the minutes, though, along with my comment that a soft opening was used successfully for our airport trail. The hard opening will likely be in springtime, probably April sometime, when tunnels open, water is turned on in outdoor facilities, and traffic picks up. Hopefully by then, any glitches in various systems will have been worked out. I am pleased to be able to participate on this committee! Much of the time, I'm just soaking it in while ThemWhatDoesRailStuff figures out the details, but I can tell that they really are listening to us non-railfolk out in the field.
2014-08-28 22:32:11
On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade. On Monday July 21, 1969 Neil Armstrong put foot on the moon. Apparently Amtrak is looking at a similar time frame. Fuck it. I'll drive.
2014-08-29 05:46:00
Well, it will be full steam^H^H^H^H^H diesel ahead with RORO service on the Capitol Limited and the Vermonter by April, with others to follow soon after. But yes, we're probably looking at the end of the decade before it's widespread. Funding is a biggie, but so is politics, since state departments of transportation, not Amtrak itself, have most of the sway.
2014-08-29 09:35:25
That also means we can RORO to chicago and anywhere else on these lines too, right stu? Even stops without checked baggage?
2014-08-29 11:06:33
Still means that if I went to DC with roro service to connect to my Meteor/Comet to fla, I would then need to get a BOX etc... In the DC station..... More fun......
2014-08-29 11:34:31
Benzo - Yes, definitely to Chicago. I am less sure about the other half of that query. I'm not going to venture a guess, as I believe some of this is what has yet to be worked out. n3glv - Right, RORO to D.C., then standard box to go anywhere other than on the Vermonter, the other route that got the go-ahead. What I know they do want is to see that this thing is going to work. So when it does become available, they want to see usage. There will be booking available, you'll have to reserve space, and it likely will not be free (except for occasional promotions). If they do go for the soft opening, I would definitely try it out while you're almost guaranteed a space. I'm hoping they have either free or reduced rate for the RORO between the soft and hard opening dates, but that's not my call, and it hasn't been decided.
2014-08-29 11:46:37
My bike is electric assist, and if I pull the battery and carry it on or put it in other checked bag, the weight etc is compliant with the box although it's rather tail heavy as most bikes have more gear on the back than the front wheel. I see roro as a vast improvement over the box in prep time (took over 1hr to box my bike, then to have the train turn into a bus / destroy the trip, discard box re-assemble, ride home in -35f wind chill.. yay) They have had the 'auto train' to Fla. For decades, I want / need my bike in S. Daytona when I visit for a month and RORO would work for me just like the auto train. It might be worth $40 (2x the cost of the box) if it then is not counted as a checked bag ($8). I think most would go for something like that just for the sake of not having to dismantle parts from the bike, supply real tape (theirs us useless, use DUCT TAPE) etc..
2014-08-29 11:59:29
FWIW, current Amtrak routes with RORO bike service charge either $5, $10, or nothing for bringing a bike. Current rules also prohibit motorized bikes.
2014-08-29 12:41:27
2014-08-29 12:48:20
I wonder if the Amtrak rule re: motorized bicycles was instituted before electric-assist was common? Forbidding internal combustion engines, with their associated fuel tanks, makes some sense...forbidding electric, not so much in my opinion.
2014-08-29 13:33:31
reddan, yes that's what they really mean, somthing-that-could-combust (gas). Ie MOPED or converted gas bike. I can show you a video of a guy with a nail gun, driving a 3" spike through a 30ah LiFeP04 battery, it emits STEAM for like 30min, nothing else. (I run the same batt tech and would have the batt with me not on the bike anyway.)
2014-08-29 13:37:55
@n3glv - Just making sure you know what we're talking about here, a picture of the racks that are going to be used can be found in @Vannevar's blog post, from our ride last October. They are vertically mounted. (see photos in post, one of these is shown below) Will your bike be able to do that, and will you be able to do that without help?
2014-08-29 13:52:11
Yes, is a standard 26" bike frame with a helmet trunk sized pack (if I left it on) On a rack similar to the center bike in that pictures rack. Weight WITH batt is 74lbs and that position is nearly perfect for its weight distribution.
2014-08-29 14:00:15
Sounds like Amtrak needs to reconsider and maybe be more specific about what exactly they really need to prohibit, so their employees have some hope of consistently enforcing the rules. No gas tanks, no bikes over a certain weight? They also prohibit "Batteries with acid that can spill or leak", whether as baggage or not, unless they're "used in motorized wheel chairs or similar devices for the mobility-impaired". I don't know if any ebike models use batteries like that. Steam-spewing batteries aren't mentioned.
2014-08-29 14:29:52
Will any of us, alumni or visitors, be in the D.C. area on Nov 17? Chance to take a look at the prototype baggage car. I don't want to put the lady's email in a public post, so if interested, PM me and I'll put you in touch. All, We are currently scheduled to have the bag car with the prototype bike racks in Washington the week of 11/17. We have tentatively scheduled a walk-through for any of you who would like to come and see it for Friday, 11/17. We would live it if you bring your bikes with you so that we can see how they fit in the car. Can you please let me know if you would like to join us for that? You are welcome to invite others as well although we’ll probably need to limit the total number of participants to 8. [emphasis mine] We’ll confirm a time and logistics once we know who will be participating. Thanks Debbi
2014-11-06 10:54:34
PG Story: "Shaving about a half-hour from the travel time of passenger trains between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg would require nearly $10 billion in track and station improvements, according to a study released this morning. The Keystone West High Speed Rail study, which was begun by PennDOT in 2011, looked at four options for improving service in the corridor, which currently is served by one Amtrak train per day that requires 5 1/2 hours to go from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg or vice versa." my comment: Our current trains take 5.5 hours to travel the 200 or so miles. That's 37 miles per hour, average. Those are motor scooter speeds! We shouldn't be looking to cut the time to 5 hours, we should be looking to cut it much more. Compare the existing train service between Zurich, Switzerland and Innsbruck, Austria. That terrain is approximately twice as rough as ours (6000 foot mountain pass) with a comparable distance, and their trains do it in 3.5 hours, 9 times a day. We need a REAL commuter rail system that is not stuck waiting for freight trains! We shouldn't be talking about 50% ridership increases, but 1000% ridership increases! Do you get the sense that PennDOT doesn't have their heart in this?
2015-02-14 13:44:06
So I need to book a trip to NYC this weekend. I’m deciding between Megabus or Amtrak. As I understand, for either situation, I would have to have my bike completely packed in a box? Is that correct? Or is one service more flexible than the other?
This question is ancient, but just for reference, Greatwall Bus runs NYC->Pittsburgh every day and last I tried (2009, admittedly) has no problem letting you toss a bike into the cargo hold.
2015-02-14 20:04:36
Megabus takes no bikes (as of my last convo with them). The DRIVER said if there was room, and I took full responsibility, he would let it. But policy is ZERO BIKES. BOXED, NO BOX, NO DIFF. The Dirty Dog has _some_ provision for boxed bikes, may have boxes etc. The Pensylvanian AMTRAK has NO CHECKED BAGS (aka no bikes, FAIL). Only way I could see is AMTRAK to DC then DC to NYC on something like the silver meteor or something..... Rotsa ruck and hours and hours and hours of layovers in the DC train sta.
2015-02-14 20:12:01
Gotta check into great wall, that is the one that departs from around ARBYS in Oakland? to China Town part of NYC? Anyone has current price or contact info for them?
2015-02-14 20:13:04
Meanwhile, Amtrak has several new baggage cars in process, to be deployed on the Capitol Limited in a few months. It's happening, folks, but there are a bazillion things in play.
2015-02-14 21:14:54
You refer to the "Roll on, Roll off"? fwiw I'm in Florida, via amtrak, they only tore 20% of the box up this time.....
2015-02-14 21:16:36
Yes, RORO. Everyplace else, a bike is checked baggage, pedals off, handlebars turned, the whole thing boxed. The RORO thing is coming to the Capitol Limited and Vermonter in 2015, then bit by glacial bit, the rest of the system will eventually get RORO service over the next decade.
2015-02-14 21:39:26
It's as if you're asking the rail lines to carry millions of gallons of highly inflammable liquid. Oh, wait, that was easy.
2015-02-15 09:05:05
well played ^^
2015-02-15 09:18:43
Don't look now mr snark, AMTRAK don't carry chemicals, they carry people. Also, if my memory serves me, their cars are quite a bit lighter than most freight cars.
2015-02-15 13:13:26
Well, it will be full steam^H^H^H^H^H diesel ahead with RORO service on the Capitol Limited and the Vermonter by April, with others to follow soon after.
Hey Stu, do you have any more info on this? I'm a New Yorker now, and have relatives along the Vermonter and would love to make some plans along the line for spring or summer. Also, do you know if the loading process will be any different at New York Penn Station? It's a big busy hole in the ground split between the fiefdoms of three uncooperative railroads and I know there are weirdnesses with baggage cars on the Northeast Corridor.
2015-02-16 11:49:46
The limitation for 2015 is the number of so-equipped baggage cars that can be devoted to service on those couple of routes. What typically occurs is that baggage cars, at the end of their runs, go into a general pool to be used on any route. For the Vermonter and Capitol Limited, the cars can be sequestered to just those routes, so they can equip just those couple dozen cars with the realistic expectation that they will remain in service there. To equip some other northeast corridor routes, they would need to equip several dozen cars before they can hope to guarantee RORO service on a given route, and they're not there yet. Getting it to work on these two is the first step, like getting bike racks on the first 40 buses back in 2001.
2015-02-16 12:29:24
@ paulheckbert Do you get the sense that PennDOT doesn’t have their heart in this? Someone at PennDOT has a heart? Who knew?
2015-02-16 12:30:37
But things are still on schedule for the Vermonter to have bike-holding baggage cars by April?
2015-02-16 13:34:06
Yes. The new baggage cars are being fitted now for spring deployment.
2015-02-16 14:10:51
Racks in separate baggage cars.
2015-02-16 20:38:30
Would you be able to access the bikes at stations that don't offer checked bags?
2015-02-17 10:04:55
My understanding is that RORO will be available every place the train stops. How it gets handled at each station may vary greatly, depending on the layout of the station and what sort of baggage car is in use. Too many variables to explain in one post. Incomplete list: * If bikes have space to themselves or are shared with other baggage * If you have to hand the bikes up four feet to someone in the car, or just up a short couple of steps, or just push it on from a level platform Lots more to it than that. Lots more. And even that will change over time and with new routes added. This is still highly fluid. Right now, let's just be happy with that, yes, there will be RORO service, this year, on those couple of routes, and that more info will be forthcoming. There's a phone meeting today about it, which unfortunately, I am going to miss because of a work conflict. Some of this info might be discussed then.
2015-02-17 10:45:10
Not that I can speak with any authority, but it sounds so far like RORO is A:self serve and if so B:will only be at what port authority calls "high platform stations". No handing bike to attendant. Also looks to be a dedicated part of the car, at the end.
2015-02-17 10:48:12
The Pennsylvanian has no high platform in Pittsburgh or most/all of its stops. You have to climb up narrow stairs into the passenger car. An Amtrak employee helps you with the big first step from the ground, and assists with getting your carry-on baggage up or down (so I'd guess they'd be just as helpful with a bike). Does the Capitol Limited have any high-platform stations? It'd be great if RORO serves all stops. On Amtrak's site somebody from Amtrak seemed to suggest the opposite, that the goal of RORO was just to eliminate boxes for bikes traveling as checked baggage. Hope that's wrong, or that's just step one of many steps.
2015-02-17 12:00:45
I'd suggest the Roll in RORO is aimed at self load/unload. But yeah, the boxes are a huge pita.
2015-02-17 12:50:36
The boxes, in my experience, were only a moderate PITA. You didn't have to take the wheels off or anything, just the pedals, the handlebars on a drop bar bike, and the saddle on a big bike. Much better than a shipping-sized box.
2015-02-17 14:06:12
I did catch today's meeting. We're looking at more like mid-May for rollout. Pennsylvanian isn't happening this year.
2015-02-17 15:45:11
I would love to take the capitol down with bike, see Monument Hill etc... (Station is like 2is mi from there), Whitehouse another mile... Then scoot back the same day or next morning or something. How many bikes can we do this with at once, assuming no bikes are in car from Chicago? (or is there a way to pre-order for a group trip more capacity?)
2015-02-17 15:53:14
That's part of the forthcoming info.
2015-02-17 16:51:49
Action alert from the League of American Bicyclists: "TODAY the U.S. House of Representatives is voting on an amendment to standardize roll-on service for bicycles, wheelchairs and other devices used for transportation by people with disabilities. Please ask your Representative to support the Lipinski Amendment to standardize bicycle roll-on service at Amtrak stations." Looks like it's just a requirement to report on progress, may be pretty soft, but it's something. Link to League's page
2015-03-03 13:36:21
@KBrooks you probably want to edit that link, your personal info is on it. @erok can you edit the link, please?
2015-03-03 14:11:13
If what they want for wheelchair / mobility vehicals is roll on / without some scisor lift thing that they use now, this could be very very sticky. The ADA standard for ramps is 1inch lift to 1 foot length. Take a 4' rise to the car and you're at 48 linear feet of ramp, even zig zag, with the minimum width could take the whole width , or length of the available platform space. A higher baggage car like say Deland Fla is more like 6 or 7 feet. If this would go through I could see millions of $ and / or the lack of ability to upgrade many/most stations to compliance. Alternative is redesign the cars?? yeah, right. As it stands, loading a wheelchair is a pita, but at least it can be done. I'm 10,000% for bike racks RORO etc, but not sure ADA compliance will ever work. (fwiw I ride an electric bike largely due to limited mobility, walk with a cane somewhere around 40-50% of the time)
2015-03-03 14:19:40
Huh, weird, I was not logged in. Also looks like I can't edit my post myself. Thanks for the heads-up, JZ.
2015-03-03 15:54:14
Try this link. I stripped off the long hex-code at the end, which apparently encodes the personal info. (It was still there in the first link as of 4:06 p.m. @erok, if you want to remove it, simply replace her link with mine.)
2015-03-03 16:13:20
Signed. I hope it isn't too late in the day. And that there's any hope in getting Keith Rothfus to vote for anything that helps Amtrak.
2015-03-03 16:15:24
It's a bit odd to me that in this situation RoRo is being bundled with ADA. It has always sounded to me like the bike service is more hindered by the configuration of the cars, or access to a baggage car, not the physical access at the stations. And if Amtrak service isn't already ADA compliant, that would be absolutely mind boggling to me.
2015-03-03 18:09:32
Here are some previous Amtrak reports to Congress on ADA and level boarding issues. Lots of interesting discussion of how difficult this is. August 2012 October 2013 Is this amendment's purpose really just to ask for another one of these reports?
2015-03-04 00:17:16
Wait, I'm still confused (and not just about the ever-slipping timeline). I've heard from Amtrak personnel that the new baggage cars are already being delivered, but I doubt those would be RORO since that would allow passengers to wander through the luggage car, grabbing stuff. Plus, *no* Vermonter-specific stations have baggage handlers, so there's little point in putting a baggage car on that specific train. The RORO trial in 2014 involved racks inside the passenger cars -- on the Superliners' lower level. That's super-duper-convenient, since that would allow bikes to travel to Cumberland, Connellsville, and Harpers Ferry along the trail, but that wouldn't apply to the Vermonter since it runs single-level equipment. As for Pgh-NYC, you can currently check a boxed bike on Amtrak but it'll travel via DC. You'll need to have it aboard the Capitol Limited at 5:20 AM, it'll connect to the overnight 66/67 (the only Northeast Corridor train with baggage), and will get to Penn Station at 2 AM the next day.
2015-03-23 13:19:28
@Marko82 - On Caltrain we had seats removed to install dedicated bike racks onboard, and generally we prefer to sit near the bike racks to keep an eye out for thieves. We've had also had to fight for every single last rack for decades and will probably have to continue to, even though research consistently shows that it's the most economical approach and that it builds ridership. It's a slightly different animal from Amtrak service allowing RORO on baggage cars.
2015-03-23 14:46:39
^this is why this is soo frustrating. First, you need to fight the system - in order to become a customer. Then they have different equipment on different trains running to different places, and sometimes your stuff has to go on a different train-and-route than the person who owns the stuff. Just put the damn racks on the trains! And, jym, thanks for checking in.
2015-03-23 15:50:34
I want RORO so I can take my mountain bike to huntington and then ride to raystown lake and mountain bike and camp! (can't do without RORO since no checked baggage service at huntington, PA) or hop on the train at Cumberland (cant do without roro since no checked baggage service at cumberland, md) and get a ride back to Pittsburgh.
2015-03-24 08:35:22
Cumberland is happening this year. Huntingdon and Raystown isn't happening for a long time yet. The Pennsylvanian didn't even make the long list.
2015-03-28 19:40:52
2015-03-29 11:52:55
Ok, not following this as closely as I should maybe, BUT. I'm about to buy a ticket for PGH to TOL (toledo). I want to take my bike. I get that it's $15, I presume I pay that online? or will I need to go to the station to manually register for RORO? TOLedo being a major station I would _hope_ it can debark the bike. It is a gutted superliner car? Can I sit on second level? (anybody know?) This is going to be cool, not much more than the dirty dog AND I'll have my bike for my 4 day vacation! (
2015-03-29 14:16:30
There's no RORO service on either Pittsburgh route yet, and Amtrak hasn't yet announced how it will work when it gets here. For now, your bike would travel as checked baggage. You get 2 checked bags free; upgrading one of them to a bike instead is $10, and then there's another $15 to buy a bike box from them (or you can bring your own). More details here in the section on bikes as checked baggage. The Wikipedia page for the Capitol Limited has more info on which cars they use than I see on Amtrak's site. It says "In early 2015, Amtrak temporarily reverted to their five car consist, due to the dining car and sightseer lounge going in for maintenance." No idea when that Superliner II Sightseer Lounge car will go back in service.
2015-03-29 17:50:01
Wow, I thought it was running. Just talked to PGH local station and you are 100% right. He said they just got training on RORO and there are 'new baggage cars' involved. Advised me to call the 800number for possible dates it would be available.
2015-03-29 18:16:02
I will know the rollout date before anybody, since I'm on the Amtrak committee. There have been numerous delays getting the racks fitted and the work done.
2015-03-30 19:35:52
Thanks Stu. Apr 1 would be great, May 1 would still work. Past may 14 I have no use for roro period. (Unless they added it to my fla train that I'll be on, with bike-in-box on Jun 1) Is there any reason someone on the capital with bike can't use a trailer (if the tralier folds to acceptable amtrak baggage size) as checked bag? I do this going to Fla, my one of my checked bags is my storage-tote-cum-trailer. 27Gal HDX black and yellow tote + used steel kid trailer and some bolts.
2015-03-30 19:41:14
I think the statement by the guy @ the station that they got trained on it last week may be a good sign. If not Apr 1, HOPEFULLY May.
2015-03-30 19:48:25
Any word on this? Mid May is approaching fast and knowing if I could make use of roll on at Cumberland would sure help with my May bike ride planing.
2015-05-04 09:50:41
Not by May. They're saying July.
2015-05-04 10:41:23
Thanks, I figured as much. I wonder how much extra business Amtrak is really depriving itself of?
2015-05-04 11:48:58
Not to be a downer, but how many cyclists can Amtrak expect in a day? Enough to justify the capital expense? I'd love local ROLO access, but don't see it happening without a larger shift in transportation. When you can fly for the same cost or rent a car for a third of the cost, their isn't much incentive for travelersoverview Amtrak. (Considered Amtrak for an upcoming trip to Portland ME)
2015-05-04 12:52:17
*... for travelers to go Amtrak.
2015-05-04 12:54:43
I don't think it's anywhere near a third of the cost. Coming back from CtC I rented a car (one way) for something like $125. The fare from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh is $55. The train works really well for some kinds of trips. E.g., if they have RORO service to Cumberland you could take the train out and ride back, a very nice excursion. Not that I think Amtrak makes sense economically outside of the NE corridor -- that is well documented -- but I think the RORO service would work well for a lot of cyclists.
2015-05-04 12:57:02
They're aware. The business case for the service has been made. Read back through this thread's contents since Summer 2013, when this project came to life. The problem is that Amtrak isn't a monolithic monster, but rather an amalgam of train operators run at the state level, with enough of a sheen with a national imprint to appear to be a national monolithic monster. Michigan and California have trains, with Amtrak printed on the side, with long-running RORO service. But states do most of the funding, and with conservative teaparty types in power, getting them to free up the paltry amount of money to do what's necessary -- times N states with rail service -- is damn difficult. PA would cut the Pittsburgh-Harrisburg train altogether for the cost of a few traffic lights ($7-10M). Pile on top of that the fitting the rolling stock for the service, all manner of different setups at various stations, trying to keep the dozen-or-so cars, so fitted, restricted to just this one named train and not have them get sidetracked to a storage yard or some other train. Lots and lots and lots of variables, all of which need to be nailed down and everyone instructed on proper handling. Soooo many things that could go wrong, and probably will. In actuality, the cars will probably show up sometime in June. Nobody knows precisely when, but the last thing Amtrak wants is to advertise a date and then have piles of people test the limits of the service in its first week when things are likely to get messed up the most. Better to get all the rolling stock in place, make sure they can keep all the pieces in place, and the handful of people who have volunteered to try it out can do so. Really it isn't the money. The whole cost of these racks, for all the cars put together, is only a five-digit number, or nearly so (and is being privately funded, at that). But the cars themselves are brand-new, and getting a fleet of multi-million-dollar rolling stock ordered, delivered, and outfitted properly, is a gargantuan affair. Bolting a few dozen racks in place is just one piece of that puzzle. Short version, pppllllleeeeeease be patient. I've been after them for six years, and I still won't be able to bike to Altoona like I asked for in 2009. Maybe not in this decade. Maybe not ever, if PA yanks the funding for the Pennsylvanian, as they've repeatedly threatened. But Amtrak wants to make it happen. Get the teapartyidiots out of D.C. and the state houses, and we might get this done, nationwide, a lot sooner. Keith Rothfus (PA-12) is certainly not on board.
2015-05-04 13:08:43
I am really curious it having roll on service on the Capital Limited would make as much of a difference as I imagine it would. Sometimes we get so caught up in our with our own interests that we lose sight of reality. I would imagine roll on would open the GAP/C&O to all sorts of riders that don't have the time or feel up to the challenge of doing the entire GAP/C&O. But would it really have a big effect on ridership? I guess that won't be answered until the bike racks are in place. OTOH, if it does have a large effect on ridership and the racks are first come first serve it would really suck to be standing at the station in Cumberland only to find the bike racks full.
2015-05-04 13:46:48
They are expecting the GAP part of the Capitol Ltd to be busy. Each train will only be able to accommodate eight bikes (or is it 10, I'd have to go back and check the diagrams, but it isn't much). Best to follow the instructions -- yet to be published -- and reserve your space as early as you can. FWIW, the same train and cars continue to Chicago, so you can go west just as easily as east. In fact, it's entirely possible that some of the racks going eastward will already be in use when the train arrives in Pittsburgh, so again, be sure to reserve space. I believe there is also to be a fee involved. Details forthcoming, but I don't want to blindside everyone. This isn't a PAT bus.
2015-05-04 14:55:33
FWIW, many other Amtrak routes (like the Cascades) do require a bike reservation. Come to think of it, the Cascades is a good model -- you can use the bike racks even at stations that don't have checked baggage service, like Olympia:
2015-05-04 15:02:51
Most of the talk I have seen said you'd need a reservation for RORO. Then again, most say EARLY 2015, not sure who's book that JULY=Early in the year. I'll be on the capitol leaving midnight 13th/14th this month for a 5 hr ride to Toledo. It sucks that I'll need to dismantle and box my bike etc. Similarly I'll be on the train going to DC then to Fla on june 1. Would sure be nice to have RORO to DC so I could do tourist for a few hrs over my layover there, _THEN_ box the bike etc. On that subject, locals are not sure I could add a boxed bike to a 'checked through trip" mid point.
2015-05-04 15:11:00
Planning a pitt to DC (and train ride back) in august. Any word if the roll on service is active now? Sure would be nice to not have to take the bikes apart....
2015-06-08 10:27:50
I don't think it's there yet, but August seems safe. Rack deployment should start by the end of the month.
2015-06-08 11:20:39
thanks stu! I hope you're not just getting my hopes up only to be crushed into the ground as I'm taking my bike apart on the marble floors of the DC train station!
2015-06-08 15:14:55
I'll know more in the next conference call.
2015-06-08 15:42:41
So much for "early 2015".
2015-06-08 18:40:10
Thanks Stu! Much appreciated.
2015-06-09 08:03:08
This project is an example of Hofstadter's Law: "It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law." * end of July: racks on trains * end of August: most other things ready (software, training, site prep, website, media notification, etc.) * sometime in September: probably will be publicly available RORO service Info is from a recent conference call.
2015-07-08 15:23:10
They're making this harder than it has to be. I took Amtrak to Missouri and back with my bike in the spring, and the trains across MO have RORO. It's the easiest thing in the world and they have no special equipment for it. One extra click adds a bike to your ticket when you buy online, and they never checked anyhow. You just carry your bike onto the train, lean it against the wall, and sit down. If you look at all awkward they'll grab it from you and carry it back out onto the platform for you at your destination before you can blink. Walk down the platform, ride away. It takes them no more time to help unload a bike than to help an old person or someone with those huge suitcases. It's really just a matter of finding a little space. And I had a heavy steel touring bike with camping stuff strapped to it - with a lighter bike it would be trivial.
2015-07-09 13:26:04
Sigh, I still remember them saying "Early 2015".
2015-07-09 13:30:28
Note that this thread started in 2010. My original request was in 2009. As to whether I will *ever* get to RORO a bike to and from Altoona, as I hoped for? I'm guessing 2019, and that's really optimistic. Things really are looking good for 2015 to D.C., though. Very likely September.
2015-07-09 15:41:59
Looks like we will be boxing our bikes for our august ride...oh Maybe next year! Thanks again for all the updates stu.
2015-07-10 09:59:36
I have a friend who works for Amtrak (engineer) and a bunch of other railroaders who work for CSX — who all know each other. I hear the Roll On racks are going to be up this year, they keep saying that anyway. One of them lives in Harper's Ferry and was trying to entice me to ride down his way with the news that it's almost here LOL. I'll believe it the first time someone reports they actually had one on their train though. Getting a damn box is agonizing at Union Station. I've done this so many times and it takes them about 1.5 - 2 hours to go grab a box and bring it to you each time — from the time you get to the baggage claim area to the time they stop standing around goofing off to grab the box for you.
2015-07-12 23:10:52
While we wait for RORO service, we can see how it might work one day in this vision of the future: Note CTC reference.
2015-07-14 11:48:12
News story in today's Trib.
2015-07-27 06:40:19
Where all the "trains were built for freight! Get on a bike trail!!" haters at??
2015-07-27 09:12:58
The passenger train company says it has not set a date for making the racks available but will aim for this summer, said Craig Schultz, an Amtrak spokesman. Read more: Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook Is JULY not "this summer" oh, I forgot, we apparently also have not reached "Early 2015" yet... (same source I wonder?) Ironically, the train in question is almost NEVER on time pgh to dc so to hope to not slow it down is almost absurd.
2015-07-27 09:37:35
I hate to add to the madness but I thought I would share what the women told me at the ticket counter yesterday as we were checking our bags and paying for our bike box in washington, DC. Unprompted, she said "I can't wait till January when we get the roll on cars".
2015-08-10 10:44:16
September. Early Sept for Capitol Ltd, maybe two weeks later for the Vermonter. Amtrak's maintenance people have been preparing rolling stock at about a car a week, and had 6 of 10 ready last week.
2015-08-10 10:56:29
Stu I really appreciate your efforts on this. thank you!
2015-08-10 11:49:30
Stu, didn't mean to put out any bad info. Just thought it note worthy since it came from an Amtrak employee.
2015-08-10 13:06:35
Pardon the ignorance, but does the RORO service means I can travel by train from Pittsburgh to a station with no baggage service (say, Connellsville) and simply take my bike out at that station and be on my way? I do like that you can make a reservation. That way you don't have any surprises when it you show up for your train and the racks are full
2015-08-10 13:31:40
That is the idea, yes. October 2013, that's exactly what we did. I had the video rolling, and the link is back a couple pages in this thread. As I recall, the eight-minute vid shows the train coming to a stop in Connellsville, us walking down to get our bikes, getting them off the racks, exiting the train, another set of riders boarding, then the train taking off. It was stopped about four and a half minutes.
2015-08-10 19:24:22
Update. Still no firm launch date for a public announcement, but if you're planning a trip with a bike, mid-September is looking pretty good. Figure on having to make reservations to ensure there is rack space. Figure on paying $25 to ship the bike, in addition to your ticket. A soft launch will go into effect sooner than that. If you are seriously interested in that, contact me. That's for the Capitol Limited. The other route getting RORO, the Vermonter, is not as quite as far along, and will lag the Capitol Limited by a couple of weeks. The delays are related to a maintenance backlog, not the bike project itself.
2015-08-14 03:55:37
Six are signed up to make this morning's test run. A couple of them are regulars on this board. Also one reporter. Hoping all goes well. Some details on the availability of the service are mentioned in today's PG. I'm pretty sure this is going to be available without qualification in just a couple of weeks.
2015-08-28 04:21:11
We all owe a deep dept of gratitude to Stu and a cadre of others who have been working doggedly with Amtrak on this for years. This is a true game changer in the life of the Great Allegheny Passage, and "wanna be" trail users. Thanks, Stu! (and thanks, Amtrak!) I must be off now....I have a ticket reservation system I need to explore!
2015-08-28 07:44:10
I completely echo the kudos to Stu. I. Am grateful for his efforts.
2015-08-28 10:25:31
Best part is now you can take a bike to points in between the stops that actually have checked baggage. Opens up so many more originating and departing stops for traveling with a bike. Really a game changer since it's hard to take bikes on most long distance travel options (aside from renting a car/van).
2015-08-28 15:33:53
Yes. There's the half-hour ride from Pittsburgh to Connellsville, leaving Pittsburgh putatively at 6:20 am. You could ride the train there, then ride back, a nice day's excursion. Or ride the GAP to Cumberland and then take the train the rest of the way to DC, avoiding the C&O, or back to Pittsburgh. And you can now use Amtrak as a bail option on the GAP. It's a little inconvenient, because of the once a day schedule, but a hell of a lot easier than trying to figure out how to get someone there with a car that can transport your bikes.
2015-08-28 15:45:00
I just got word that Amtrak has revised the bike reservation fee down to $20 for the Capitol Limited.
2015-09-05 07:34:34
wow. they listened to feedback. that's great. I really hope they pull the trigger on this and don't blink. also, kind of an interesting YouTube:
2015-09-05 12:34:59
See the Amtrak spreadsheet at It shows that the Cascades train in the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver BC - Seattle - Portland - Eugene OR) does roll-on bicycles at 10 per train for $5. The Chicago - Pittsburgh - DC train will apparently be 7 per train for $20.
2015-09-06 17:59:37
I'm less concerned with the charge and more concerned about the service existing in the first place. For most other services, states paid for the bike accommodations -- either through new equipment, or by requiring it as a condition of ongoing operating subsidy. That's not the case here, where Amtrak paid to install the equipment. $20 is cheaper than the old bike + box charge, and it's a bargain for carriage from Chicago to DC. Yes, on a percentage basis it's a bit silly for Pgh-Connellsville -- but consider that by far the highest demand for the racks is on the GAP/C&O segment, so demand needs to be managed there.
2015-09-06 23:06:26
SUCCESS!! After five years on this thread, over six since I first pursued the idea myself, a member of the general public has boarded an Amtrak train in Pittsburgh, with a bike, and did not have to take it apart first. We have also independently confirmed that the bike reservation system is live on the Amtrak website. OK, folks, ride 'em high! [/mixed metaphors]
2015-09-14 10:00:31
Thanks, Stu, for all the work you put in to this.
2015-09-14 10:06:56
Awesome! Thanks, Stu! I just checked it myself and it works! Next up, the Pennsylvanian! By the way, Amtrak is trying to capitalize on the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Richmond, VA. Travelers on the Northeast Regional between Philadelphia and Richmond can "walk up" to the baggage car with their bikes and hand it to an employee. No box required. Reservation is required and it costs $25. This will only be available between September 15-30 to coincide with Worlds:,1251628754311,1251628798194,1251628859487 I tested this, and there's still bike spots available on the NE Regional. Trains that have their bike allotments filled up will simply say "BIKES UNAVAILABLE"
2015-09-14 10:24:37
Stu, you're awesome man! Thanks for everything you did to help make this a reality!! We missed using this service by a couple weeks this year, But our next annual Pitt/DC ride will be a lot more enjoyable because of this!! Thanks again man!
2015-09-14 12:58:58
So, if the roll on service is fully booked, can you still box your bike?
2015-09-14 13:32:03
I suppose you can, though I don't know why you'd want to.
2015-09-14 17:53:45
@stu, it'd still come in handy if you're traveling to a station with baggage services. More hassle, for sure, but at least you can still take your bike
2015-09-14 19:21:18
> I suppose you can, though I don’t know why you’d want to. because you still want to take your bike, even though the roll on service is fully booked?
2015-09-14 19:22:54
I asked a clarifying question about capacity and recumbents and this was the response (author remains unidentified) there are 7 spaces per train for regular sized bikes and 1 space per train with two tie-down straps to eventually accommodate a recumbent bike. The recumbent space is “coming soon” due to some additional development work needed in order to reserve and sell the space within Amtrak’s reservation system. As soon as that space is available to reserve I will let (people) know.
2015-09-16 12:39:59
@Vannevar: is "recumbent" Amtrak-shorthand for "odd-shaped bikes"? Tandems, for example? I also wonder about trailers, trail-a-bikes, and similar contraptions. Regardless, this is a huge step forward...I'm jazzed.
2015-09-16 14:20:57
I sense the opportunity for some kind of Clue/Murder on the Orient Express type mystery game involving a train ride out to about Connellsville and clues stashed along landmarks on the ride back. Must think on this.
2015-09-16 16:56:23
Dan, I just had a similar convo with Beth. Suppose you reserved and paid for the recumbent spot, but showed up with your tandem (or other non-standard bike). Maybe your recumbent broke last night. Maybe the phone center staff told you, sure your tandem is OK just reserve the floor space. Maybe you arrive with doughnuts. If they publish size constraints for the recumbents, then you'd probably have to live within it. Hmm, tandem recumbents... It's always tricky to make distinctions by device category. As in: phones are cameras are calendars are flashlights are maps are computers. Are e-bikes permitted on Amtrak? hmm... You'd have to be a Talmudic scholar (as our friends Ben, Yale, and others certainly are) to parse the code.
2015-09-16 20:16:15
I'm taking notes. The committee's work is not yet done. This is good input. I'm thinking Amtrak needs to have a FAQ page for bike transport. Questions, answers, diagrams, links to video how-tos, the works. What-all should I ask or suggest?
2015-09-17 05:02:25
Ask for a list of which stations have practice racks (just like the ones in the rail cars) on which passengers can practice hanging their bikes.
2015-09-17 06:00:30
@Stu: As alluded to above, clarification on "weird bikes"...maybe something like permitted length-width-height dimensions as Vannevar suggested, rather than generic categories like"recumbent" or "tandem". Details on what accessories (panniers, handlebar bags, trailers) can remain attached, versus what must be removed. Diagrams showing how bikes are to be secured (tie-down straps? Heh.)
2015-09-17 06:02:49
@Stu (first, what Dan said, which should be like my initial line always) practice racks in stations (as @Paul suggested) stations need placards with directions to bike infra/ trail. change terminology from "recumbent" to "rack-incompatible bike" because I think that's the essence of what they're trying to accomplish, and provide some max footprint parameters. Let a person reserve a bike and an RIB (rack-incompatible bike) and then they can pay for two slots and bring a trailer.
2015-09-17 06:43:28
If I knew the service would realistically allow me to bring the bike train, I'd book it in a heartbeat. They could publish what they want, but the most effective way to minimize uncertainty would be to put sample racks in the stations.
2015-09-17 07:27:49
some possible FAQs -do I have access to my bike during the trip (determines whether I take my panniers or leave them on the bike) -i'm old, will someone be able to help me lift my bike (ADA etc.) -who's responsible if my bike is damaged or stolen -what happens if i have a bike reservation but the rack is full/damaged when i try to get on the train -it's been raining for three days and my bike is covered with gunk, will they still let my bike on the train -the website says i'm allowed to do "this", now the conductor tells me i'm not allowed to do "this" and I will miss the train. Who do I call & who pays for my inconvenience (especially with one train per day)
2015-09-17 09:00:10
I thought of one just now myself: * Next to the practice rack, can we please have a stocked set of "diaper wipes" (whatever you call them) so we can wipe down our bikes before bringing them on the train. Probably a lot easier to do that than install a hose or leave a loose bucket of water to be kicked over.
2015-09-17 11:55:05
We took the Amtrak back to Pittsburgh from DC this past weekend and used the roll on service. It was pretty cool and all of the Amtrak employees at Union Station in DC (and on the train itself) were all really cool about. They were all very helpful and it went really well. It just took about 8 hours to get back and it's only once a day from DC so it gets in at midnight. Thanks for your help getting this set up.
2015-09-21 07:57:16
Apologies if this was already posted, I found this when looking for the origin of the work 'bonking' (which pops up in this film @9:10 FWIW) ...but the beginning of this 1955 British film has some nifty-neato stuff on RORO and the British railways. The whole film is bloody ace.
2015-10-02 09:43:02
Yeah, I found that back when we were still dreaming about RORO service here. A very forward looking video, anticipating RORO's use someday in Crush the Commonwealth: CTC
2015-10-02 09:53:49
The derailment on that Amtrak train in Vermont is on the 2nd line that's supposed to get RORO service. It was supposed to start within a couple of weeks, but that's going to have to be delayed while Amtrak deals with the larger mess.
2015-10-06 13:50:11
A friend took his mountain bike on the amtrack with RORO and had some issues with the size of his tires (29x2.4) and the RORO racks. Is there any guidance on what the max tire size that works on these racks is? This is kind of important since a lot of people may want fatter tires for the less improved C&O canal trail surface, and the burgeoning popularity of drop bar mountain bikes.
2015-10-06 15:45:17
The next conference call is Tuesday. I will be sure to point that out. Thanks.
2015-10-06 17:01:25
Amtrak's service updates page mentions two other trains that got bike service recently, a pilot program for the Heartland Flyer (Oklahoma City-Fort Worth) and the Carolinian (North Carolina). On those you hand your bike up to an Amtrak employee in the baggage car, instead of securing it yourself. The description for the Capitol Limited has this curious text: "If your bike has a large seat/saddle bags, you will need to remove it from the bike before loading it on the train. The seat can either be carried on the train or checked, where permitted." I wonder if they meant to refer to seat bags, not seats. Anyway, if they want people to remove large bags and/or seats, they should really specify what "large" means. Sticks out more than X inches from the center line? Weighs more than X lbs? And let me add my thanks to the chorus, Stu, for all your work on this.
2015-10-07 02:03:04
Uwe Eickert sent the GAP email group a couple photos of him using the bike rack. I've copied them below. IMG_20151001_235911_495 IMG_20151001_235919_156
2015-10-08 10:02:54
Tried it out on Sunday from Harpers Ferry to DC. Everything was straightforward: the conductors know to expect bicycles and had the door to the bike compartment open as the train pulled into the station. It stopped right in the middle of the platform, although HF has a short platform. We walked up, the conductor helped us lift the bikes into the car, and we hung the bikes from the rack. The only fiddly bit is the bar in the middle, which swings out so that you can use its Velcro strap to stabilize the down tube. There's a regular luggage rack by the stairs just outside the bike room. The only thing I'd do differently is to unclip the panniers first. I'd wanted to take the train out on Friday, but the bike racks on that leg were sold out two weeks in advance!
2015-10-12 11:34:57
They made us take all of our panniers, handlebar bags, etc. off of our bikes before we could put them on the train. We had to check all of our gear in a separate bag (we had packed a big duffle bag with us for this purpose though). Whatever.
2015-10-14 09:03:16
If anyone tries this on Amtrak, let us know how it goes, please. "Metro North said no bikes, so we ran to the hardware store and packed our sculptures in time for the next one."
2015-11-04 23:43:59
Amtrak ridership is growing. "Arrivals and departures from the Pittsburgh station have gone from 125,200 in fiscal 2012 to about 149,600 in fiscal 2015. It was the third straight year ridership rose. Of the 535 Amtrak stations, Pittsburgh is 68th busiest, which is more a measure of how poor train service is in most of the country than how good it is here. East from Harrisburg, there are dedicated Amtrak lines so busy that more than 500,000 arrive or depart annually in little Lancaster and more than 4 million in Philadelphia." [note how much poorer Pittsburgh's train service is than little Harrisburg's!]
2015-11-24 12:03:38
So, i'm curious to know whether you can box a fat bike or 29+ on amtrak between stations with checked baggage service. I'm almost positive these won't work for roro service due to the size of the hooks in baggage area. I thought it could be nice to ride fat rubber during the spring soggy season. 1. Does it fit in the box with wheels inflated? Does it fit deflated? Would i need to remove tires (issue for bikes setup tubeless) 2. Any other special considerations for disassembly? Has anyone tried this or researched it?
2015-11-26 10:00:18
I know the question was asked of the higher-ups; I'm the one who asked it in the committee's last telecon. There should be something on the website by now. If there is and it's hard to find, that's a problem. If it's not there, that's a problem. If it doesn't answer the question definitively, that's a problem. Other than that, the Capitol Ltd service should be running smoothly. We're looking into next year before the Vermonter is able to do likewise.
2015-11-26 10:55:04
I'm quite sure that a fat bike would fit into Amtrak's very generously sized boxes. If you have any doubt, you can probably stop by the Amtrak station and ask to try out a box -- just slide the back wheel into the box.
2015-11-30 13:43:53
Hmm...if one carried an S-hook or similar, sized to fit a fat tire, could you get away with using that to hang the bike from the RORO hook?
2015-11-30 14:02:15
^a pedal strap would work too.
2015-11-30 15:49:36
Didn't this start as 'would a fat tire bike fit in the box'? The boxes are pretty big, the main limit being the length the shaft for the pedals+arms. My center stand punched a hole in the box for example. My fat-arse no horn cushion seat _JUST_ fit. My BMX bars on a more or less beach cruiser 26" were too tall, had to be folded down. (all of them req twisting) As for RORO, it came in too late for me to use it, I'm now in Florida. (sigh) But while logic says that pretty much any bit of strap etc would work. Most of us can relate to that baggage check person who weighs your bag at 2oz over 50# and INSISTS you remove something, right? That's not usually the case in PGH, but I _could_ see some overly anal guy in the roro car giving the thumbs down to anything that is not middle of the road normal. Too bad they don't have a static display rack you can try your bike(s) on in or even outside the station! (stu maybe suggest this?) I think the california systems did this. If you want to see fun, try SUNRAIL btw, their 'system' is a single strap that is supposed to tie any bike to the side of the car. Not unusual to see bikes falling over, domino effect even, and in the end req the owner to stand there (no straps to grab up high either!) Best of luck to all who ride Amtrak and can take advantage of the RORO! ps, Volusia county (Daytona) has the same racks on all busses as PGH!
2015-11-30 16:08:46
There was discussion of increasing Amtrak train service from Pittsburgh toward NYC from its current pathetic level of one train per day to three trains per day. I didn't hear them say that there was any realistic prospect that this would happen, though. They mentioned that the "Pennsylvanian" train out of Pittsburgh toward Philadelphia & NYC has one of the highest load factors in the Amtrak system: the existing trains are nearly full. Radio excerpt (22 min) here: "In an effort to increase passenger rail use and decrease congestion on Pennsylvania’s roads, PennDOT announced last week that they’d be discounting tickets for Amtrak rides across the Commonwealth. Pittsburgh was added to the network between Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia and New York in what’s being called “PA Trips By Train.” Will this encourage Pittsburgh travelers to jump on board? We’ll ask Lucinda Beattie, Vice President of Transportation, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and Mark Spada of the Western Pennsylvanians for Passenger Rail."
2015-12-14 21:20:39
Dilemma: Where they're talking is mainly between Harrisburg and Philly. The problem of getting trains across the Allegheny Mountains was resolved in 1850, but apparently that's still difficult to consider doing. My suspicion: The greatest economic impact would be an infinitesimal decrease of cars on the PA Turnpike. But that infinitesimality (is that a word?) is justification enough to keep the purse-string holders at bay. Most of the cost of running Pgh-Hbg service comes from one line in the PennDOT budget. AFAIK there's always the chance we could lose the service entirely. Recall that the whole reason I started this thread was so I could RORO a bike to Altoona. Not D.C.
2015-12-15 08:23:19
I'd be willing to bet that they're losing money on the Pennsylvanian. So adding another trip, to lose money faster, isn't something they want to do.
2015-12-15 08:29:23
@stuinmccandless: when Mark Spada on that radio program spoke of highest "capacity" (I think he meant load factor (i.e. fraction filled)) he was talking about the Pennsylvanian, which is the train that runs from NYC to Pittsburgh.
2015-12-17 12:28:03
The next leg of the Amtrak system to get RORO is the Vermonter. This almost happened last year but that big derailment derailed the project as well. Well, it's still going to happen, and this season. Stay tuned for further developments.
2016-04-01 13:38:50
Stu, a few points the next time you speak to your amtrak buddies. One, this is so awesome and well-implemented. Two, I really want wifi on my trains. Three, here's a blog post containing this note: Our friends will take the Amtrak out to the start. Our freak bike tandem is not yet permitted on Amtrak trains so Felkerino and I will do a one-way vehicle rental to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. it notes that a team of cyclists is using Amtrak to get to an event! and grieves they can't take their tandem yet. thanks Stu!
2016-04-01 16:41:35
In may I'm using RORO from pit to Cumberland. How easy is the process? I already paid for my bike with the ticket. I assume if they see me on the platform with a bike they'll point me the right way. Do. Need to take off rear panniers and front bag?
2016-04-10 14:36:09
Get to the train station at least 30 minutes before the departure. When you're about 10 minutes from actual arrival, use the elevator to move your bike up to the platform level. I suggest leaving as many bags on your bike as you'd like - while you're rolling it out to the train. They put the passengers in different cars for different stops - for instance, probably all the CBL passengers will be in the same car - but there's probably only one baggage car. So, your bike and your self may be in different cars. Once you get into the baggage cars, quickly remove the panniers and bags. Stow them with the rest of the luggage (that's already in the baggage car). Rotate your bike, front wheel up, and place it into one of the racks. There's a pulldown lever that velcro's to your seat-tube. This reduces swaying motion while the bike hangs on the rack. This is a pretty good video but it's a few years old. The only difference between this video and the Amtrak equipment is that Amtrak has a Velcro strap on the lower bar that connects to the bike. The velcro strap replaces the big U-lock shown in the video. There's a 1/4-inch steel cable coming out of the rack. You can lock that through the frame and use your own lock to secure your bike if you want to. Personally, I don't feel the need. Once you've stowed the bike, exit the baggage car and get to whatever car they want you in. When you're 10 minutes out from your stop, move through the train and position yourself on the lower deck outside the baggage compartment. If it's unlocked, I go in and un-rack my bike and start putting my panniers back on. The goal is: disembark without delaying the train. Certainly, other people will be in the baggage area. It might be wise to remove lights/geegaws that are easily stolen.
2016-04-10 15:04:10
Perfect!!! Thanks.
2016-04-10 19:13:31
The Vermonter RORO service will launch May 1.
2016-04-13 14:52:55
So, can you RORO to DC then RORO to vermont? Is there extra roro charge for each leg or just one?
2016-04-14 08:54:10
I was checking Pgh-DC and then DC-Florida RORO for a January trip, and the website wanted to charge the fee twice (once for each train).
2016-04-14 10:15:23
I do not know that level of detail, but separate fees would seem reasonable to expect. On that, the initial plan is $20 to get the bike to New Haven, $10 if only RORO-ing beyond that.
2016-04-14 12:35:51
2016-05-02 15:30:13
Is there any statistics on Capitol Limited RORO service usage?
2016-05-02 15:50:42
I'm sure they are keeping track. I will find out on the next conference call in a week or so.
2016-05-02 16:51:42
My big question is, why is the charge different on each line?
2016-05-03 08:16:14
For the Vermonter, the reasoning is demand management. The line's biggest use is in the southern half, so $20 to RORO. Northern half, less ridership, so only $10.
2016-05-03 10:00:44 To Lucinda Beattie, the decision on whether to increase Amtrak service between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg is a simple matter of numbers. Ms. Beattie, vice president of transportation for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, said it would cost $10 million to $13 million a year to increase rail service from one trip a day to three, according to a study the agency commissioned three years ago. By contrast, it costs about $8 million to build one mile of highway. “This is a very affordable transportation project,” Ms. Beattie said Friday. “This is not an extravagant project. It’s very doable.” ...
2016-05-15 00:06:11
The Vermonter is off to a good start, over 50 bookings in the first couple of weeks. Meanwhile, several months in, the Capitol Ltd's numbers are "eye-opening", in the Amtrak officials' words, now averaging 100 bookings a week, over 1,500 since launch. It is the highest bike-revenue-generating route in the whole Amtrak system. Several long-distance routes on the east coast are expected to get equivalent service by 2017, as baggage cars are purchased and retrofitted. If you recall the earlier posts, it is difficult to dedicate rolling stock to a particular route. A baggage car intended for one route can easily end up getting hooked to another train, then not make it back to the original route for months, resulting in no racks when promised.
2016-05-16 15:18:55
The high revenue isn't all that surprising, since the bike fee on Amtrak's other routes is variously $10, $5, or zero (with one partial exception). But 100 bookings a week is amazing. With 14 trips a week, that's averaging just over 7 bikes per trip on a train that can accommodate up to 8 bikes at once. Of course, if bikers got on and off at every stop, 8 wouldn't be the limit for the whole trip. Still, it sounds like they could easily be near or at capacity for some legs of most trips. So when are they going to add more spots for bikes on the Cap Limited? :-)
2016-05-17 07:58:00
Note that a booking does not translate directly into a trip right away. Some of those bookings might be for weeks or months in the future. Still, the info came directly from the Amtrak rep on the conference call.
2016-05-17 09:51:42
The National Association of Rail Passengers (NARP) has an intern traveling around the country by train this summer, carrying a bike. Here's a story out of Salt Lake City about her journey. Unique internship: Travel 10,000 miles in 38 days in 15 states Pittsburgh, alas, does not appear to be in her itinerary.
2016-06-02 08:31:01
Stu, I had an email suggesting that Amtrak doesn't use the term RORO now that they've decided to not open the cargo doors; it said they prefer WOBS, walk-on-bike-service. Have you heard of that? thanks! VB
2016-06-02 22:19:57
I hadn't. I'll pay closer attention to the verbal terminology on the next conference call.
2016-06-03 14:04:26
The Empire Builder line, which runs through Minnesota and Wisconsin, gets walk-on bike service. Minneapolis Star-Tribune story, 20 Sept 2016 A chief component of being able to provide this was the 2014 renovation for the St. Paul train station. To my eye, this all boils down to capital infrastructure spending, to make it possible, and operating funds to provide the increased service. They, too, are trying to figure out how to add service, both south to Chicago and north to Duluth. I also have an unconfirmed report that the Lake Shore Limited, through New York State, will also be on the list soon, with possible extension east to Boston. Waiting on station construction in Albany NY.
2016-09-20 13:28:16
"The Empire Builder allows for Minnesota residents to easily travel to Chicago or all the way out to the Pacific Northwest." Stu, does this mean you could roll onto a Capitol Limited train in Pittsburgh, transfer in Chicago to the Empire Builder, and roll off in Seattle?
2016-10-08 20:39:01
I think all this means is that you can get from Minneapolis to Duluth like we get from here to D.C. Various pieces will keep dropping in place, in no particular order. It's more up to state departments of transportation than to Amtrak central. EDIT: Going back and re-reading this, yes it certainly does seem to mean you can get all the way to the West Coast now. Hmmm, that's an accomplishment, if true. EDIT 2: I punched the buttons on their website, and indeed, you can add a bike to your trip from Chi to Sea.
2016-10-09 16:58:34
That is indeed what that means, Stu :-)   Caitlin Cooper State Partner Liaison, Amtrak Sales Distribution & Customer Service 10 G Street, NE  |  Washington, DC  20002
2016-10-10 12:55:32
I missed the last Amtrak Bicycle Task Force call-in, but apparently a lot of good news, and good enough that Amtrak is going forward with significant expansion plans. A couple of bullet points:
  • 3,200 bikes on the Capitol Limited since carry-on service launched
  • Maxed out capacity in June, July and August, carrying between 450-480 bikes per month.
  • Guessing that 75% are new riders.
  • Similar good news on the Vermonter line, over 500 bikes and it was not a full year.
  • Had the best August/September sales ever.
  • Used results from Cap Limited as business case and outlined funding proposal to expand Cap Limited service to four other routes.
  • Vermonter results being used for multi-state proposal, proving the case to expand that type of service.
  • FAQ page being assembled based on the questions they've gotten on the service so far.
  • Brief, 30- to 60-second instructional videos also being planned.
  • Several other things (maps, presentations, website updates, facility tours) in planning stages, but not ready to discuss details here yet.
Short version, a whole lot of good stuff is happening. Separately but related, NARP (National Assoc of Rail Passengers) is hiring another intern to travel by train all over the country with a bike. Last year's intern did not stop in Pittsburgh. Boy, it would be nice if we could make arrangements for that person -- yet to be chosen -- to spend a day here, in the company of local bikey folks, who could take him/her for a ride out a bit of the GAP, up an Incline, up Federal (via 11 Fineview bus) to Catoma and Myler to revisit the opening scene from Flashdance, and a bunch of other places.
2016-12-16 15:12:33
On the Pennsylvanian today, headed to NJ. Boy, if only I could take my bike on this train... Anyway, as I got into the Amtrak station aepund 7:15 am, I noticed a couple of people with fully loaded fat bikes. Made me wonder if they had ridden all the way to Pittsburgh and were not able to load their bikes on the Capitol Limited, which had gone by earlier, given all the issues that we've discussed on this thread regarding larger bikes. Perhaps they didn't read the fine print?
2016-12-23 08:33:40
I bet they could box those bikes. But probably not RORO. But that doesn't help if you're not expecting to have to do so, and don't have the tools (and the box if the station doesn't have them) handy.
2016-12-23 09:44:09
Going to the National Bike Summit next month?  From an email I received this evening from the Bike League:
National Bike Summit participants are invited to Washington Union Station to learn more about Amtrak’s bicycle service on Wednesday, March 8 at 9:00am. Train cars equipped with bicycle racks will be on display. Amtrak staff will demonstrate loading bicycles and answer questions. Participants are welcome to bring their bicycles to test out the racks. The first 100 Summit attendees to register through our on-line scheduler before Friday, February 3, will also receive an Amtrak Loves Bikes long-sleeved T-shirt. Have a question for Amtrak? We are also collecting questions for Amtrak from League members and supporters. Some of them will be answered at the event, but Amtrak will give written answers for all of them. Whether you are coming to the Summit or not, please submit your questions and we'll get you answers! Add your question here:
2017-02-01 20:29:59
I received a similar email from Amtrak, but just enough different from the above to be noteworthy:
Have questions about Amtrak's bike service? This is your chance to ask it! Amtrak will hold an open house at the National Bike Summit, where Summit registrants can check out train cars with different types of bike accommodations (bring your bike!) and ask questions of Amtrak staff about bike access, specific routes and stations, and how to bring your bike on an Amtrak train. If you will be at the Summit you can register here to attend the open House (and get a Amtrak Loves Bikes T-shirt) - If you aren't coming to the Summit you can submit your questions for Amtrak here- Amtrak will give written answers to all questions and the League of American Bicyclists will publish answers on our blog. (for those asking questions, we can also send answers directly to your email if you provide it in the survey) So ask your questions!!
2017-02-10 15:23:21
Trump is overflowing with horrible, damaging ideas. He seems bent on weakening America as quickly as possible. "If the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts to Amtrak are passed by Congress, Pittsburgh could lose one of its two passenger routes that goes through the city. The budget, unveiled last week, calls for all long-distance trains to be eliminated so Amtrak can concentrate on improving the efficiency of its shorter-distance corridors. As part of that efficiency, The Capitol Limited, which goes from Washington to Chicago with a stop at the system’s Downtown station, would be eliminated."
2017-03-19 01:38:13
With 2 bike Pgh members quoted.
2017-03-19 11:14:46
Amtrak needs to work on their trip planner now that they support RORO (roll on roll off) / WOBS (walk on bike service) /  on many trains and boxed bike service on others. I want to be able to use the trip planner to figure out how to get to NYC with a bike. My guess is that I will have to take the Capitol Limited to DC and catch one of 3 lines (out of like 10 options that don't allow bikes or checked bags) on the northeast regional lines to get to NYC that actually support unboxed bike service. However, the trip planner doesn't give you that as a possible trip when using it as expected by entering PIT as start and NYC as destination. However, you can get it as a possible option if you do a multi-city trip and use DC as the first destination and NYC as a second destination and are willing to possibly have a long layover. It's not easy to do or logical to figure out. Would be nice to have a checkbox (traveling with bike?) that will give you end to end route options for boxing or rolling on bike. Though, it could get complicated if you were traveling somewhere where you had to do walk on service on one line and transfer to another that did boxed bike service only or vice versa. Not sure how often that would be the case.
2017-04-05 18:44:14
Roro and wobs are two ways of saying the same thing?
2017-04-05 20:07:32
RORO and WOBS are to me, so much the same that the difference is insignificant. But the AMTRAK folks seem to care a lot about it. Near as I can tell, the difference is: RORO, they open the big exterior side hatch in the cargo car, and WOBS you walk the bike into the normal people entrance and walk it into the cargo bay. But AMTRAK does really seem to care about the distinction.
2017-04-05 20:50:55
Regarding future Amtrak funding, here's an interesting conversation with Michael Dukakis. Jump to 4:00 in the audio for the Amtrak stuff (or read the transcript). Living on Earth: A Blueprint for $1 Trillion Infrastructure Spending "Amtrak is actually the national rail system which requires less subsidy than any other national rail system. Amtrak makes more of its money from the fare box than any other national rail passenger system in the world. And yes, in point of fact, national rail gets subsidies, but think of the subsidies that highways get. ... Right now, highways in America get something in excess of $40 billion dollars from the federal government every year. Air gets $16 billion. Amtrak is down to a few hundred million, and about 85 percent of its expenses are paid for by passengers and system revenue. That's pretty remarkable, and I don't think most people understand this."
2017-04-10 22:18:54
Regarding other train services with bike options: Indiana's South Shore Line offers roll-on service on seven trains a day weekends and holidays; this year, the program is expanding to include two morning and evening rush-hour weekday trains. Stops offering bike service include South Bend Airport, Dunes Park near the Indiana National Lakeshore, and a half-dozen stations in Chicago.  Their website and schedule brochure (PDF) even helpfully list the trails near the relevant stations.
2017-04-11 15:14:59
Last month, Amtrak had a post on the Bike League's blog on some of the equipment used for bike service on their trains, which also includes the incredible datapoint that "14,000 cyclists have ridden with their bikes in tow since fall 2016"....
2017-10-10 17:15:19
It wold be nice if I didn't have to be at the station at 5:00 AM in order to catch a train. If that ever happens, I could ride it to DC and bike back to Pittsburgh
2017-10-11 20:16:11
Yeah, I know. What started this thread in the first place, seven years ago, was that eight years ago in 2009, I had looked into the idea of my wife and I taking our bikes on the train to Altoona for the day, to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary. We could have easily gotten downtown by 7am, hopped on a train for a couple hours, spent five or six hours chasing around Lakemont Park, then bike back to the train station for the trip back home, and be in our beds by a reasonable time. Couldn't do it then, can't do it still. So the 2010 request triggered the "(again)" part of this thread. Now the whole idea of having a national train system at all seems, at times, to be in jeopardy.
2017-10-22 19:43:33
Depends when the trains run and if they are on time.
2019-03-12 08:46:07
There is one eastbound train daily. It leaves a bit after 7am. I’ve taken it. It’s supposed to take about seven hours. That one time, in May 2008, it was closer to nine. This blog post documents the experience. My point is that, one way or another, there’s a decent chance the CtC riders would beat me across the state. I should get there around evening rush hour.
2019-03-12 23:43:47
I'm not following you here. They leave, what, at 5 am and it takes them at least 24 hours. At least from Philly to Pittsburgh it "only" takes, at the most, 10 hours, so you should be there via Amtrak well before. See the screen shot. And pit to phl is same:
2019-03-13 06:42:17
The DC train would be a tough call for a 5:20 departure, given the riders aren’t even out of Point State Park much before 5:10. So, I’m looking at being able to box a bike in two hours for the 7:30 train. Not impossible, but any delay puts that in jeopardy.
2019-03-15 17:33:38
If I can obtain a folding bike between now and CtC, I might try traveling across the state that way. I have a second use for a foldie/Amtrak trip in May. If it works well enough, maybe I can get my wife to try one, too, which if successful, brings us full circle to the first post on this thread. We wanted to go to Lakemont Park in Altoona for the day. That’s what started this whole inquiry.
2019-03-27 13:10:38
You had asked about this on FB.  Boxing up the bike should be no problem.  The boxes are huge and require minimal modification.  The real question is, Do they allow bikes on the Pennsylvanian train?  Last I checked into it, they (Amtrak) does not permit any checked baggage on that particular train service.  If things have changed recently, that would be great news.
2019-04-07 10:06:35
I think I remember hearing that the key for boxing the bike is removing the pedals and turning the handle bars, so bring enough wrenches to do the job.
2019-04-07 10:10:28
Right.  That was my experience, but not on the Pennsylvanian.  I took a train to Chicago and then Kansas City.  Boxed up the bike (and some gear because the box was so large) and didn't have to worry about it again 'til KC.  Once there, pedals back on and handlebars straightened and I was rolling out of Union Station in no time.
2019-04-07 10:19:59
Anybody ride the Capitol Limited lately?  I rode Connellsville to Cumberland a few weeks ago and did a 2-day camping ride back, and today I rode Pittsburgh to Connellsville for a quick day trip back.  Both times, no bike rack in the luggage compartment!  They're telling everyone to lay the bikes on their sides. It's funny that it took them forever to come up with the special rack for roll-on service, but now it's good enough to just toss them on the floor.  We could have done that years ago!
2019-06-22 18:11:04
From Facebook / Beginning Tuesday, October 1, 2019, the Pennsylvanian will add a baggage car to its operation and provide checked baggage service plus space to carry up to six bicycles. Based on the Amtrak website, Pennsylvanian stations available to handle checked bags and bicycles are Pittsburgh, Johnstown, Altoona, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Newark and New York. The bicycle charge is $20.00.
2019-10-08 13:41:11
Whoa. Huge. Just checked the Amtrak site and there is indeed the ability to add bicycles to your ticket! Amazing.
2019-10-08 14:02:40
Damn, I was going to post this myself, as I got it straight from the Amtrak Bike Advisory Committee that I still participate on. This is, in fact, exactly why I started this thread almost 10 years ago.
2019-10-08 19:39:46
Why do the trains have to be so early? No buses arrive in Downtown before then. If I had to catch a train to Washington, would I have to ride the last inbound bus to Downtown for the day and then sleep in the train station for a few hours before the train comes?
2019-10-09 20:05:23
Because they start in Chicago and D.C. We’ve needed a second Pennsylvanian for years. Figure out how to fund it, both at state and national levels. Current political leadership is against that on both levels. Let’s hope there’s anything left by the time the politicians we elect in Nov 2020 will take charge.
2019-10-10 10:54:40
Funny though, it costs $20 for a bike to travel to Johnstown, but only $19 for a person per trip when I priced it out.... So it costs about 80-ish for a round trip. Still wondering if they have general specifications about what types of bikes are capable of roll-on service? Max Tire Size? Considering that I have a Mountain bike with 27.5x2.8" tires that I would like to take to Johnstown to ride down the incline plane Mountain Bike Trails which is only a short ride from the Amtrak Station... Is it possible with this bike?
2019-10-10 13:05:29
I know we’ve talked about that in the Amtrak group, which contains reps from all over the country. I’d have to check the Amtrak website for specifics on whether they added that detail.
2019-10-10 17:26:26
2019-10-10 17:31:28
This article says there are expanded bike-on-Amtrak options in PA. Article was a little vague, but I think the change is that unboxed bikes are now allowed on Keystone (Harrisburg-Philadelphia-New York City) trains. Previously, within Pennsylvania they were only allowed on Capitol Limited (Chicago-Pittsburgh-Washington DC) and Pennsylvanian (Pittsburgh-Philadelphia-New York City) trains, I believe.
2020-09-07 00:16:38
They weren't on the Pennsylvanian, which is why this thread was created 10 years ago. Re-reading this, I'm still not sure that you can yet. I did bring a folding bike on my April 2019 trip from Pgh-Phila and back.  
2020-09-08 02:49:53
Stu: article says "Carry-on and walk-on bike service has been available on the Pennsylvanian for less than a year".
2020-09-08 09:50:33
I'll have to look into that further, then. My last Amtrak trip was in October 2019.  
2020-09-09 07:47:26